Froome Changes Mind and Goals:
Having previously been touted to avoid 2015’s Tour de France due to a lack of time trials, Chris Froome is now rumoured to not only be set to compete in France but also ride September’s subsequent Vuelta too. The British rider rode both of the afore mentioned Grand Tours in 2014 due to his horrendous misfortune suffered in the opening week of the Tour de France, leaving him with a shot at the Vuelta in order to save his season. Froome exceeded expectation in Spain, riding himself into some solid form which saw him secure a podium place despite falling short of Alberto Contador’s attacking prowess. With an ill-fitting Tour de France and recent good experiences from riding the Vuelta, Chris Froome looks set to ride both again in 2015, but with a stronger aim upon September’s Grand Tour due to hosting a favourable time trial for the Sky man compared to Le Tour.
Alonso is Still Dreaming:
The closest thing to a rock and roll superstar joining the world of cycling was expected to be Formula 1’s Fernando Alonso starting his own professional racing team at WorldTour level. The Spaniard’s attempts to get a new team registered in the last year have been repeatedly unsuccessful and now it appears we are set to wait even longer for ‘Team Alonso’. Despite securing a license from the outgoing Euskaltel-Euskadi team and then backing from Middle Eastern financiers, the plan is on the rocks yet again with confirmation that there will be no team in 2015.
York Get Their Sums’ Wrong:
It does not take much prompting from the world of cycling to agree just how great a success Yorkshire’s Grand Depart was for Britain, though it has come to light that this was not necessarily mirrored in the finances. Large underestimation’s of how many stewards and barriers would be required was one such glaring miscalculation, but the greatest error came in the shape of an £187,000 loss for the so-called ‘Grand Departy’ which cost £206,000 to organise but returned less than £20,000. Despite such poor planning, the experience of hosting the Tour’s departure seems to have left its mark upon Yorkshire; helping to raise the county’s profile internationally and boost the profits of local businesses.
Fernando Alonso’s ambitions of starting his own WorldTour team seem to have been stuck in limbo for a long time now, but it is no surprise when you see why. The general consensus of many outlets regarding the project was that it had been left dead in the water after a failed takeover of Euskaltel-Euskadi and an uphill struggle with the UCI to gain a licence. Project ‘FACT’ (Fernando Alonso Cycling Team) cannot sign any riders until a license has been granted by the UCI but he also cannot start to register a team without riders already secured; hence the never-ending tail chasing.
Starting a team is proving harder than a downhill selfie for Alonso.
It certainly is not unusual in recent years for a team to be born and racing in the space of a year, with a full rosta of riders such as Team Sky in 2010 or Orica-Greenedge in 2012, but it is a hefty task. It appears that Alonso’s original flurry of activity in 2013 to sign riders and capture the Euskaltel-Euskadi licence hit his ambitions hard, certainly when it came to securing the required sponsorship to perform at the level he desires. However, the rumoured investment from a Dubai sponsor has restarted the attempts to sign some riders up this month and the race is now on for Alonso to finalise deals, if he wishes to see his team racing come 2015. Leaving his contract talks until after this year’s Le Tour de France has not been a wise move, as many riders will have already landed contracts to ensure their place amongst 2015’s peloton. Despite these negative factors, FACT is an attractive option for a rider should the €20 million budget be true and with Belkin folding and Germin/Cannondale merging, Fernando Alonso may find himself picking up a few stars along the way.
In a quite unexpected announcement, Bauke Mollema has turned his back on the previous seven years with Dutch outfit Belkin/Rabobank and has signed a two year deal with Trek Factory Racing as of 2015.
A move which may put a smile on his face.
Such a signing would indicate that Trek are finally willing to ditch their backing of Frank and Andy Schleck and instead turn to the Dutch mountain man, with a taste for the classics, as their GC hope. Frank Schleck was of course suspended for the use of a possible masking agent, while his brother’s misfortune has left Andy thinking of dropping back to ProContinental racing in an attempt to recover from a range of career sapping injuries.
The signing of Mollema will also lead to increased activity from Trek Factory Racing, in order to bolster their support ranks if they wish to build a team to put the Dutchman closer to the podium than this year’s 21mins+ deficeit to Vincenzo Nibali.
The worst kept secret of this year’s transfer window has to be Oleg Tinkov’s ambitions to sign Peter Sagan from Cannondale. The general consensus is that this deal has been completed for some time now, primarily due to the Cannondale/Garmin merger which probably help swing Sagan’s mind and we are just waiting on confirmation. Expect an announcement to come over the course of this weeks Tour de Pologne if this is the case, but the real questions are; Can Saxo-Tinkoff operate with Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador in the same race? And is Fernando Alonso’s mysterious team still lurking in the shadows for Peter Sagan?
Speaking of Cannondale, their most combative and swashbuckling rider of this year’s Tour de France, Alessandro De Marchi has now left them to join BMC along with Garmin’s Rohan Dennis. With Cadel Evans on the cusp of retirement (please somebody make him!) and Tejay Van Garderen falling short of his potential currently, BMC certainly seem to be making some sound investments for future Grand Tours.