Liquigas-Cannondale and Saxo Bank considering merger, says Gazzetta dello Sport

Move could reunite former Discovery Channel team mates Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso

by Simon_MacMichael   June 2, 2012  

Liquigas-Cannondale on Giro 2012 TTT (Danele Badolato - LaPresse - RCS Sport)

Liquigas-Cannondale and Saxo Bank are reportedly considering merging to merge for the 2013 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, with the aim of creating a super team led by former Discovery Channel team mates Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso that will aim to become the world’s number one team.

The Italian sports daily says that nothing had been set in stone yet, but if Liquigas’s management team have not been able to find a replacement sponsor by August for the Italian gas company, which is not renewing its backing beyond the end of the season, then a merger similar to that of RadioShack and Leopard Trek, or Garmin and Cervelo TestTeam, is on the cards.

The news comes as the Liquigas-Cannondale management team of Roberto Amadio and Paolo Zani prepare to wave goodbye not only to their headline sponsor but also a number of the outfit’s leading riders.

Vincenzo Nibali, winner of Tirreno Adriatico in March and second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège and third in Milan-San Remo, is reportedly set to join Astana on a contract worth €2.8 million a year. Alessandro Vanotti and Valerio Agnoli are likely to go with him.

Sylwester Szmyd and Daniel Oss, meanwhile, are said to be heading to BMC Racing. Eros Capecchi is apparently keen to stay, although there is  question mark over whether the team can match his contractual demands.

Definitely staying, however, accordig to the newspapr are Basso, Peter Sagan - although he has been the target of interest from other teams - Elia Viviani and Damiano Caruso, among others, and there are also hopes that Roman Kreuziger, who left at the end of the 2010 season for Astana, may make the return journey.

As for Saxo Bank, the Gazzetta reports that Contador is likely to rejoin Bjarne Riis’s outfit when his ban ends on 6 August.

The Spaniard is said to feel a moral obligation towards the Dane, who stood by him throughout the year and a half between his positive test for clenbuterol on the 2010 Tour de France being disclosed, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport banning him for two years, most of that applied retroactively, earlier this year.

Contador is also reported to admire Riis’s qualities as a team manager, and has is even said to be moving to Lugano in Switzerland, where Riis has lived for a number of years.

While the newspaper points out that there would need to be some compromise between the two teams’ styles to achieve a successful merger, it adds that Basso and Contador have a strong mutual respect that took root when they rode together at Discovery prior to Basso being banned as a result of links to Operacion Puerto, and that they have on occasion informally discussed the opportunity of riding together since then.

5 user comments

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There could be another more "simple" reason for a merger, Apart from sponsorship, Saxo need some points to keep their status next year as they won't have enough to qualify for the pro tour next year Devil

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8858 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 13:24

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Yep, Gkam, you've got a point, if Saxo Bank don't get a shed load of points soon they'll struggle to get a license next year. As far as I know even if Contador wins the Vuelta his points for this year don't count and Saxo really don't have anyone else who looks like they can make up the shortfall. If things keep going as they are a couple of other teams like FDJ and AG2R could be in a similar position.

What's more worrying is that Liquigas have a few great riders like Sagan and you'd think that they wouldn't be having these kinds of sponsorship issues.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 14:22

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posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 14:23

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Be interesting in terms of bike supplier too with contador's link to spesh. Also, I thought Roman was on his way to OPQ?

posted by Super Domestique [1600 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 15:05

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It's silly season, at this point everyone is going everywhere. I've heard that Kreuziger is going to both Liquigas and OPQ but if Astana are looking to pick up Nibali then Liquigas will have an open spot and budget to play with. It'll be a bit of a merry-go-round for a few months until contracts get signed and teams announce their rosters in October.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 18:35

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