The Tour de France marks the point in the cycling calendar when thoughts inevitably turn to who’s riding where next year, and this time around, the gossip has got going earlier than usual, with rumours that Team Saxo Bank’s Schleck brothers may be racing for a new Luxembourg-based team next season.
The Danish newspaper Politiken has reported that according to television channel TV2, Fränk Schleck has known about the new team since January, and believes that his younger brother Andy, who finished second behind Alberto Contador on the Champs-Elysees podium last year, has been aware of the plans for a similar time.
It added that Riis now intends to speak to Fränk Schleck to clarify the situation, although the team owner has conceded that it is difficult to imagine a Luxembourg-based team without the Schleck brothers, whose contracts with the Danish outfit expire this year.
The new team is being set up by Brian Nygaard, who spent six years as press officer to Bjarne Riis’s CSC/Saxo Bank outfit before moving to a similar role at Team Sky, and he will be joined by another Team Saxo Bank employee, Kim Anderson, in the role of sporting director.
News that Anderson was no longer working with Team Saxo Bank broke at the weekend, apparently after Riis discovered his sporting director was involved in helping put together Nygaard’s new outfit, although both parties deny that Anderson was sacked, instead saying that they had simply agreed to cease working together.
Anderson’s departure just days before the Tour de France adds to what has been a problematic season for Riis, who has yet to confirm a new headline sponsor for next year following the decision of Saxo Bank to terminate its sponsorship a year early at the close of the season, although it is believed that software services and IT brand SunGard, brought on board in January, will assume title sponsorship of the team.
Meanwhile, last weekend Fränk Schleck won back the Luxembourg Road Race Champion’s jersey his brother took off him 12 months ago, although having won the Time Trial Championship, it will be Andy who will be sporting the red, white and blue colours in Saturday’s Prologue in Rotterdam.
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.