Bjarne Riis hopes to sign Alberto Contador in the next few weeks. Contador can return to cycling in August after his two-year retrospective ban has ended. Contador had signed for Riis but due to the Spaniard's ban after testing positive for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, the team had to release the rider. Now, the team wants him back.
However, it seems like a number of teams, including Astana, RadioShack, Movistar and a new Spanish team, are interested in signing the rider.
Team Saxo Bank's current sponsorship is coming to an end this year, and Riis is surely a bit worried about the future. But maybe Contador's signature could mean a continuation of Riis and Saxo Bank's relationship. Just as it was in 2011, when Contador came to the team.
"When I have something concrete to say then I'm going to say it," Riis told Cyclingnews. “We're working on it and of course I want him to stay in the team. This is what both parties want. Of course there's lots of speculation but I have good feeling."
Before his ban ends, Contador can't really say much about where he will ride when he comes back. But it seems likely that he will re-join the Danish team.
"There have been reasons for that. As far as I understand there are also the UCI rules that we have to follow on what we can do. Hopefully we'll have something soon but I'm looking around."
A few days ago, Timothy Duggan of Liquigas-Cannondale won the USA professional national championship road race, where he soloed away to win the national jersey. The rider hasn't had an easy time as a pro rider, as he has suffered from several injuries.
Duggan rode away from the favorites, including defending champion Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Nissan), Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) on the course in Greenville. Duggan crossed the line 15 seconds ahead of Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Kiel Reijnen (Team Type 1 – Sanofi).
"It's a good one to win. It was really satisfying because I have thought about that particular race for a long time and how I wanted to win it. And for it to come to fruition exactly how I thought it would is cool," Duggan said of his first major career victory.
"I don't feel that things are totally different or I'm a different rider. For me this was no surprise. I've been busting my ass for a long time and now I got what I wanted. I'm ready for the next goal."
In 2008, Duggan crashed in stage 3 of the 2008 Tour de Georgia and broke the clavicle and scapula. But also suffered a traumatic brain injury.
"There was a big question if I was going to be the same person again let alone get my career back again."
He came back to racing at the 2008 professional time trial.
"I did a few laps around the time trial course in Greenville as my ceremonial race back into the peloton. It's been a roller coaster after that."
In 2009, he took a second place in stage 8 of the Tour of California and he lined up for his first professional road world championships. In February a few months later, he crashed on the last day of the Tour of the Mediterranean and he fractured the glenoid fossa - the shoulder socket.
He could start the Amstel Gold Classic, but crashed again, breaking his collarbone. Wasn't too much racing that season.
It must feel wonderful to have some luck again. And maybe this victory could lead to a selection for the London Olympic road course.
"There's no cut and dry automatic procedure," said Duggan. "They pick the team on who is going well. And there's no Olympic Trials – a winner takes all selection. They are making the selection pretty soon, and yes that would be something I would love to be a part of."
Jérôme Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) is preparing for the Tour de France. Coppel is a good time triallist, not the best, but not the worst either, and the rider is strong in the mountains as well. This year's Tour could really be a good one for him and maybe this is what the Frenchman needs to develop into a stage race contender.
“I’m a long way from his level, but seeing [Bradley] Wiggins finish fourth in the Tour [in 2009] reassured me with the idea that it was possible to be a good rouleur and a good climber,” Coppel told L’Équipe.
A year ago, the Frenchman finished 13th overall at the Tour, and this year, there will be significantly more time trialling on the route and Coppel aspires to a place in the top ten.
“When there’s hard attacking, I get a bit asphyxiated,” Coppel said. “At the Galibier and Alpe d’Huez last year, I blew straight away, but afterwards, when I got into a rhythm, I made up the ground on a lot of people. I climb like a rouleur, but if I manage myself well at the foot of the climb, I’m capable of following the leaders for a long time.”
The year has started well, with overall victory at Étoile de Bessèges and third place at the Ruta del Sol, and last week, he too second place at Bayern-Rundfahrt.