From the sublime to the ridiculous, sporting transfer gossip offers no end of opportunities for speculation and distraction. Suffice to say, cycling is no different. This weekly column will bring you up to speed with the latest, greatest (and downright absurd) cycling rumours for your own examination and contemplation.
Ivan Basso – Liquigas to Saxo Bank?
According to the latest rumours, Liquigas – who will be rebranded Team Cannondale in 2013 – cannot afford to keep hold of their number one climber, Ivan Basso. The 34-year-old Italian, who has ridden for the outfit since 2008, is said to be close to a return to Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank and Bjarne Riis, who he rode under at Team CSC prior to a doping ban in 2006. Source (in Danish)
Liquigas are withdrawing as a title sponsor ahead of next season after eight years, possibly paving the way for the 34-year old’s departure. Saxo Bank are the favourites for his signature, and he would join an outfit who have strengthened impressively ahead of next season with the likes of Roman Kreuziger, Nico Roche and Matti Breschel.
Will it happen? 3/5. Whether the rumours about the team being strapped for cash are true or not, I’m not sure. However, while Basso would almost certainly be Cannondale’s top climber after the departure of Vincenzo Nibali to Astana, the fact that the likes of key mountain domestiques Sylwester Szmyd and Eros Capecchi are off to Movistar next year suggests he wouldn’t have much mountain support. However, there’s little question he would arrive at Saxo Bank in a domestique role himself. It’s an intriguing rumour and one which will undoubtedly be watched closely.
Jose Rujano – Androni Giocattoli to Euskaltel?
According to reports in Spain, Venezuelan rider Jose Rujano could become a rare non-Basque rider on the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, moving to the WorldTour outfit from the UCI Pro Continental team Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela. Rujano is 30-years-old and a very capable climber, finishing on the podium in the 2005 Giro d’Italia and sixth in the 2011 edition. Source (in Spanish)
Reports suggest that the traditionally all-Basque team are being forced to look further afield in order to recruit riders who will guarantee them more WorldTour points, ensuring their place in cycling’s top tier. They have even been linked with non-Hispanic riders, like German Andre Schulze. Vacansoleil and Sky have also all been linked with a move for Rujano.
Will it happen? 3/5. With Rujano moving into the latter stages of his career, a move to a top team is probably the only way he can guarantee the chance to repeat a Grand Tour podium. The Basques may not be happy, but it certainly appears feasible.
Andrew Fenn in Quick Step swap deal for Sky’s Cavendish and Eisel?
It is widely accepted that Mark Cavendish will be moving to Omega Pharma-Quick Step next season after a frustrating summer at Sky. It comes as little surprise to hear that Cav’s best chum and trusty right-hand man Bernie Eisel will be thrown into the deal too. But there has been an interesting twist to the story, with the Gazet Van Antwerpen reporting that Sky want an unnamed “talented young rider” currently on the books of Omega Pharma-Quick Step to be thrown into the deal. Source (in Dutch)
Rumour has it that it is young 22-year-old Briton Andrew Fenn being used as a bargaining chip by Dave Brailsford, a former track champion and winner of the under-23 British national road race championship in 2010. This season he has won two of the five races which make up the Vuelta a Mallorca – the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca and the Trofeo Migjorn.
Will it happen? 4/5. Given that Sky are losing tw0 big-name, valuable riders it comes as no surprise that they want to be fairly recompensed. Given that Fenn is British he’d most likely be delighted with a move to Sky, with Brailsford likewise. It certainly seems to have some substance.
Pippo Pozzato – Farnese Vini to Saxo Bank?
There has been another twist in the Pippo Pozzato transfer saga we first reported on in the last update. After strong links with either Movistar or Katusha, Saxo Bank now appear to have joined the chase for the 31-year old Classics specialist. Source (in Danish)
Pozzato finished on the podium of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and in the top ten of Milan-San Remo this season, and it is little surprise the Italian is being linked with a move back to a team in the WorldTour.
Will it happen? 4/5. I am fairly certain he will be back in the WorldTour next season, the only question is with which team. Saxo Bank are probably the team with the strongest Classics squad, especially with the re-signing of Matti Breschel to join Nick Nuyens, and because of this Pozzato must surely be considering a move to Bjarne Riis’ outfit.