There are rumours afoot in cycling circles
Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain stripped of his titles. AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Rumours are afoot on rider movements, team mergers and shiny new bikes for 2013. Alberto Contador has been stripped of all his points from the last two years. No other rider in the roster has really stepped up and delivered results.
The reality is that Saxo Bank need Contador to take out the Vuelta, which up until 48 hours ago was considered a one-man race.
Yet with Andy Schlek now out of the tour his focus will be on matching Contador at the Vuelta, which for cycling fans is a real positive.
The Vuelta is definitely the least glamorous of the ‘Big Three’ with Tour De France and Giro hogging the spotlight.
There has also been some rumours of a possible merger between Saxo and Liquigas for 2013.
Saxo has had limited points and Vincenzo Nibali has confirmed he will be moving on.
He is rumoured to be going to Astana or BMC and his points will go with him.
A merger between the two teams might be a marriage out of necessity, especially given the red-hot form of Peter Sagan at Liquigas, who has amassed a wealth of points this year.
Sagan is only 22 and is considered by many to be one of the next big names in the sport.
His 2012 form alone includes the green jersey at Tour of Oman (two stage wins), the green jersey at Tour of California (five stage wins), a stage win at Tirreno-Adriatico and De Panne, three stage wins at Tour De Suisse and consistent form in the one-day classics.
This includes finishing fourth at Milan San Remo, second at Gent-Wevelgem, fifth at Tour of Flanders and third at the Amstel Gold.
Contador is 29 and still has plenty of years left in him.
It will be interesting to see if both he and Sagan can fit under one team.
At this stage Sagan is considered an all-rounder/sprinter and is suited to the one-day races and week-long events.
It is important to note that he can time trial strongly, so he does has the potential to develop into a Grand Tour rider.
At 73 kilograms, however, he would need to strip at least five kilograms.
To switch gears, most cyclists love their bikes and are particularly fond of the brand of bike they ride.
I find this fascinating and a great thing about cycling.
I have owned various brands of cars but I will only ever ride Specialized.
There has also been reports in French newspapers that Team Sky could possibly end their association with Italian bike manufacturers Pinarello.
They may sign an agreement with Specialized.
The paper goes as far as to claim that the agreement would be worth an estimated six-million Euros per year to the British team.
It’s easy to see why Specialized are keen to get on board with Sky as they had Cavendish on the Venge in 2012, which delivered the World Championship.
It is hard to fault the overall strength of the Sky Team with the likes of Cav, Wiggins, Froome, Porte, Hayman and Boasson Hagan on the roster.
If the deal goes through, it will be fascinating to see if Specialized simply add the British team to its current ProTour stable.
They already sponsor more teams than any other manufacturer.
Specialized currently sponsors Astana, Saxo Bank and Omega Pharma-QuickStep, with the rumour being they might cut Astana.
They might actually look to cut Saxo if a merger happens, but this is mere speculation and Sagan is a guy Specialized would love to have on their bikes.
Omega have Boonen, who smashed everyone in Paris-Roubaix, Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.
He has now won Tour of Flanders three times and Paris-Roubaix four times.
Boonen replaced Cavendish as the number-one sponsored rider and Saxo have Contador (and perhaps Sagan if a merger occurs).
Specialized will thus keep a stable of riders consistently delivering results in varying forms of road racing including classics, sprint stages, week-long races and Grand Tours (Climbing and TT).
All of these use a variety of different styles of bikes.
All of this speculation opens up a few questions.
What will be the impact of the potential merger of Saxo and Liquigas?
Is it a good idea for Specialized to link up with Sky?
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