According to a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport, Andy and Fränk Scheck are considering leaving Team Saxo Bank to form their own team at the end of this season, and have plans to take World and Olympic Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara with them.
The brothers will become free agents at the end of this year upon the expiry of their contracts, and according to the Italian sports daily have already lined up key personnel for their proposed outfit.
The Gazzetta claims that the brothers have recruited Marc Biver as team manager, while the Dane Kim Andersen, currently directeur sportive at Saxo Bank, which is owned by Riis Cycling, will undertake a similar role at their new team.
Both are potentially controversial choices. The 58-year-old Biver, who like the Schleck brothers, comes from Luxembourg and also holds a Swiss passport, lost his job as manager of Astana in the wake of the doping scandal that engulfed the Kazakh team during the 2007 Tour de France.
Meanwhile, Andersen, who in 1983 became the first Dane to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, at one point received a lifetime ban for doping, subsequently reduced on appeal to one year. Once he resumed racing, however, he tested positive again, in 1992. Despite his history with drugs, he is reportedly highly thought of as a directeur sportive.
As for Cancellara, the Italian paper points out that he has another year left on his contract. While similar contractual circumstances didn’t stop Team Sky or BMC Racing from signing, respectively, Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans in recent months, UCI President Pat McQuaid recently said that the governing body was looking at tightening up rules regarding riders under contract switching teams.
The potential departure of the Schleck brothers, both of whom finished in the top five in the general classification in last summer’s Tour de France with Andy coming second, will come as a further blow to Saxo Bank.
In January, Bjarne Riis’s outfit was told that its headline sponsor would be pulling its backing a year early at the end of this season after the Danish financial institution decided its marketing budget was better spent elsewhere, and has yet to announce a replacement.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.