The Silly Season

News & Results

09/19/2011| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
Team owner Andy Rihs has been throwing money at his BMC Racing team like a rap star at a strip bar.
Team owner Andy Rihs has been throwing money at his BMC Racing team like a rap star at a strip bar.

The Silly Season

There's a reason that the months professional cyclists negotiate their upcoming contracts is called the silly season. The reason is because during the Tour de France, rider's agents are seen sulking around teams floating offers or just generally trying to suss out how much their client is worth on the open market.

There's a reason that the months professional cyclists negotiate their upcoming contracts is called the silly season. The reason is because during the Tour de France, rider's agents are seen sulking around teams floating offers or just generally trying to suss out how much their client is worth on the open market. By the time the Tour pulls into Paris the deals are done, but due to a UCI rule, transfers cannot be officially announced until August 1st. However, people love to talk (thank God), and by the time riders have left "The City of Light" there's solid rumors of where riders are going to land for the next season. As usual, some are just crazy while others have some merit. But this season has had a unique twist that has had us scratching our heads and still wondering where several of the big players might be in 2012.

As I write this we're over halfway through September and into the World Championship in Denmark. And while numerous contracts have been nailed down a few are flapping in the wind. One transfer that keeps getting more interesting by the day is the ongoing takeover of the RadioShack squad by Leopard-Trek.

I'll spare you the gory details so far as chances are you're up to date, but in a nutshell - rich Luxembourg businessman Flavio Becca funds a ProTour caliber team with the understanding that a title sponsor would step and kick in Euros to keep the wheels on the road. That didn't happen and Leopard-Trek management is replaced. Becca announces that the RadioShack squad has folded and he's sucking up their sponsors, RadioShack and Nissan, and getting those names stitched onto the 2012 team scarfs.

This move startled riders initially, but soon things settled down. However, several Shack riders are still without confirmation. Although RadioShack's Johan Bruyneel stated that Chris Horner would be joining him in 2012 at the newly re-branded RadioShack - Nissan - Trek squad (now known unofficially by the acronym "RaNT"), Horner was still unsure of his status when asked at the recent Interbike show in Las Vegas.

I can understand Horner's confusion. This is not his first rodeo for this rider who turns 40-years old next month. He's seen contracts go pear-shaped during his Mercury days. Just because someone writes it on the internet, doesn't mean it's a binding contract. I'm guessing with the demise of Capital Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the 2011 RadioShack squad, Horner hasn't seen a 2012 contract from his new Luxembourg overlord. And by listening to Becca's comments that the team will be based in Luxembourg and further stating, " I can confirm that there is nothing American in this team, apart from the two sponsors," speaks volumes to what his true intentions are. Just a note to Becca - this is not a way to endear yourself to American fans. We're funny like that...

With teams capped at 30 riders and 23 Leopard-Trek riders making the jump with the new squad, that leaves room for seven RadioShackers. It's getting to sound

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