09 August 2010

Upsetting the Apple Cart

I like tradition in cycling

I allowed myself to settle on the idea that my favorite riders were all on the same pro cycling team. It wasn't necessarily my favorite team, but the team had my favorite riders. Times are changing for those riders. Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Stuart O'Grady, Jakob Fuglsang, Richi Porte, Matti Breschel - remember what a great combination of riders Saxo Bank was? Now what?

At the 2010 Tour de France I heard that Alberto Contador wanted 5 million to transfer to Saxo Bank. I was told, "he is worth two Schleck's". Well not in my mind. In the end Bjarne Riis brought Alberto Contador over from Astana to Saxo-Bank (which is officially going by the new team name SunGard-Saxo Bank) for 4.5 million euros. Contador walked in one door and my favorite riders are walking out the other door.

The forever likable Andy and Frank Schleck announced their departure from Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank team a week ago. They plan to be part of a new Luxembourg-based team in 2011. Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Jakob Fuglsang, and Matti Breschel are clearing out as well. If all Americans got to know the character and determination of Jens Voigt, we would have millions more cycling fans in this country. [Jens Voigt: pronounced like Yense Voked].

Jens Voigt on the yellow bike he jumped on during the 2010 Tour de France after crashing on his own bike. Determined to make it to the final day in Paris, he was not going to give up without a fight, even if it meant riding a Juniors bike with toe clips. Read the full story at: VeloNation Jens Voigt avoids abandoning Tour de France with help from kid's bike  Photo by: Robin Wilmott/Bicycling.com

Also watch the video of the post race interview with Jens: Jens Voigt: I borrowed a children's bike to drive down. To read about the man who handed Jens this fine yellow bike read Word of the day at the TDF: voiture balai

Jens Voigt is one of a kind. I haven't heard where he is headed after seven years with Saxo Bank. It is possible that Voigt, Fuglsang, and O’Grady will follow Andy and Frank Schleck to their new team.

Matti Breschel announced today that after six-years with Saxo Bank he is moving to Rabobank for a 450,000 euro salary with a focus on the spring Classics. It has not yet been announced whether Fabian Cancellara will remain with Saxo-Bank to complete the last year of his contract, or whether he will be moving to BMC or to the new Luxembourg-based team with the Schlecks.

Now that Alberto Contador has won three Tour de France titles, people are willing to reorganize entire teams around the man, they seem to do so every year. Contador wants to bring his choice of men to Sungard-Saxo Bank. He has suggested his fellow Spainairds Benjamín Noval, Jesús Hernández and Daniel Navarro. Tasmanian Richie Porte may also remain on the team as the second GC man.

Out with the old, in with the new. Forget about the Saxo Bank team, I am following my favorite riders instead. Wherever Jens, Cancellara, and the Schlecks go - I will follow.