Early Start on Transfer Rumor Season
The silly season lasts all year long.
he's been linked to BMC Racing Team. Regardless it throws teams into a tizzy.
Garmin-Barracuda's Jonathan Vaughters knows how potentially dangerous these early transfers rumors can be to the welfare of a team. When there were rumors that Bradley Wiggins was moving to Team Sky, it had the potential to scuttle any possible sponsors.
For example - you're pitching a team that currently holds a rider who was fourth in the Tour and he has the potential for more. That seems like a good team to throw some money behind. All of a sudden there's word that the star rider might bolt. Suddenly the sponsor isn't so eager to put corporate money behind the squad. Not only can the team lose sponsorship dollars, but that dribbles down further and the loss of money could mean the loss of back office jobs.
A high profile rider that is currently without contract is Alberto Contador. As we all know, he's been benched until August 5th - just in time for the 2012 Vuelta a Espana. He's strongly linked to returning to his previous team, Saxo Bank. But now Saxo Bank has been linked to Liquigas! When teams merge the blow back is that people lose their jobs.
A team is limited to 30 riders, so if two squads merge, someone is going to get the boot. Imagine you're on a squad that is rumored to merge with another - those are some nervous times. Will you be kept or will you be tossed out? And don't think that the contract you have is valid - that's with your original owner. If a new owner comes in, you're out of luck.
Going back to Contador - I think he'll return to the Saxo Bank fold. A merger with Liquigas, which I'm assuming will include Ivan Basso, would be a formidable combination. This past Giro showed that Basso lacks that certain something that he had several years ago. You draw your own conclusions...
Another team on the brink of extinction is Euskaltel-Euskadi. According to Cyclingnews the team's managers are fighting with rider agents who they call "vultures" because they are trying to lure away their talent. One of the stars of the team who is entertaining several offers is Samuel Sanchez. Marca.com reports that Sanchez has several offers he's looking at, but ultimately he wants to stay with the Basque-sponsored team.
However, Sanchez has ample UCI points that would transfer with him to any team. That makes him a hot commodity and puts the management of Euskaltel in a difficult position. It's hard to court other possible sponsors if the star has a wandering eye.
Sanchez says he'd like to have the whole transfer situation behind him before the Tour de France - either the team continues as a WorldTour squad or he moves on. A rider of Sammy's ability can't race for a Continental squad that is wrangling for wild card slots.
End of the day the transfer season reminds me a lot of Christmas - every year department stores put out the ornaments earlier