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Old 09-11-08, 11:25 AM   #1
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Who will Lance ride for?

Everyone assumes that Astana is the natural fit, but this situation poses a huge quandary for Johan Bruyneel. Together their successful strategy has been to select the GC rider (Lance) and build a dedicated support team around him. When Lance left Johan had no one to fill the leader role. He hired Levi for it, but Contador beat him out. Now the team is built around Alberto. Were Lance to go back to Astana, he'd essentially be replacing AC. IMO, the team wouldn't like it and Johan would not do it. He's already said he believes that AC can be as dominating as LA was. He'd essentially be trading his future away for old times sake.

So Lance won't be riding for Astana. Who then?

LA won't give up the successful "all for one" strategy, so he'll either have to find a director who a) agrees, and b) has or can form the appropriate team. He'll want a team with a strong American connection, and one that has no hint of drug scandal.

Candidates:

1) SaxoBank - Sastre is gone, the team is incredibly strong, but would the Schlecks be happy in support this year? There's no American connection with CSC gone.

2) Garmin-Chipotle - will Vandevelde (or for that matter Millar) step aside for Lance? Maybe. But can LA and Vaughters get along? Maybe.

3) Columbia - George is there, I think Bob Stapleton would go for it, but is the team and the program strong enough? My sentimental favorite.

4) Form a new team - LA is used to owning the team he rides for now. If he can find a DS that will do what he wants, he might be tempted (could JB be enticed to leave Astana?). But where will he get the other riders? I'll bet Landis and Leipheimer could be had. If Floyd joins then Zabriskie might come along. With that lineup a whole bunch of riders would have to give it serious consideration. And what about the team infrastructure? IMO it's way too late to form a team for 2009, and the odds are against ASO inviting a 6-month old team anyway.


BTW, there's a potential fly in the ointment. When Discovery Channel agreed to sponsor Tailwind Sports (Lance's company), part of the deal was that LA execute a personal services contract. That type of contract has a life independent of team sponsorship arrangements. If it's still in force, then current DC management might have something to say about any comeback. (Which might be why LA is rumored to want to ride 'without salary or bonuses'.)


Any other candidates?
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Old 09-11-08, 11:38 AM   #2
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I agree that Lance's comeback is both a big opportunity and a curse to many teams. Including Astana....whatever happens 2009 just became a whole lot more interesting.
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Old 09-11-08, 12:10 PM   #3
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OTOH, Contador's reaction.
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Old 09-11-08, 12:17 PM   #4
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Columbia seems like the best fit. Strong team without a strong GC contender, an American sponsor who can use Lance to sell stuff, Hincapie is there, blah, blah...
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Old 09-11-08, 01:26 PM   #5
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I like Astana the way they are currently. IMO, Lance has something to prove (can't believe I wrote that) before being enshrined as a GC for Astana, given three years out of the tour. Columbia would be cool and considering Kim Kirchen doesn't seem up to the task, and GH isn't a GC anyway, it would be a nice fit. With Lance, GH, Kirchen, Cavendish, etc,. Columbia would be tight! My prediction is he ends up on a lessor team e.g. American Beef???, Milram, I don't know. Vaughters is hyping VdV too much to throw Lance in the mix...not going to happen at Garmin. Who knows, maybe Lance starts a new team with some of the Barloworld, Saunier left-overs...Marico Soler is jobless right now, right?
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Old 09-11-08, 01:41 PM   #6
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Don't forget about the relationship that Lance has with Trek. He'll be on a Trek. That implies that whatever team he joins will likely have to switch. There will need to be a team where the contract with their frame sponsor ends in '08 and they haven't signed a new one yet.
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Old 09-11-08, 02:40 PM   #7
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I don't see that as a huge problem. It can be handled in negotiation. The team could go Trek (though obviously the current sponsor wouldn't like it much, but what could they do?), or Lance could ride the team brand and get a contract exception for outside Trek hype, or he could get an exception and ride whatever he wants while the rest of the team stays with Brand X.

It'll have to be handled, but it's doable.
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Old 09-11-08, 02:45 PM   #8
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I really like Contador's attitude in that article. The more I learn about him the more I like him.

This changes my opinion a little about the possibility of LA riding for Astana. JB already tried the "may the best man win" approach with some success, LA is so cocky .. er, confident .. that he'd do it assuming he'd win, and AC seems of like mind.


They could sell tickets to the 'training' rides!!
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Old 09-11-08, 05:46 PM   #9
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In the Vanity Fair article it is a little unclear but the article makes it sound like Lance will have his own team with JB helping to manage it. Does this mean that JB will be managing two teams, Lance going to Astana or Lance signing up guys for his own new team. Or will Lance be taking over part of the team ownership as in the past?

It looks like Lance is getting serious about using smaller races for training. He is signed up for the three man team for the 12 hours of Snowmass mountian bike race.
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Old 09-11-08, 06:20 PM   #10
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I can't see Lance forming his own team for a 1 season, a limited one at best in terms of participated races. A lot of work & money go into making a team from riders to management & everyone in between. I just can't see top riders wanting to limit the amount of races they are in just to support Lance though his endeavor is admirable. Lance needs to find a team that already is in place with sound management & talented riders.

Astana, Colombia & Garmin-Chipotle seem the most logical, I guess we'll all just have to wait & see.
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Old 09-11-08, 07:11 PM   #11
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I was thinking Columbia - not the least of which - they are an American team.

I think I read that Columbia's deal with Giant is up. I might have been imagining that? That could certainly make the bike situation easier.

And of the teams that have been thrown around - Garmin, Astana, Columbia - Columbia has the least clear GC man - and its a STRONG team.

Of course - the announcement is part of some cancer awareness initiative - so - perhaps its team LiveStrong....
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Old 09-11-08, 07:46 PM   #12
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I did a little digging. Apparently, Astana rides Trek....
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Old 09-11-08, 09:22 PM   #13
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I really like Contador's attitude in that article. The more I learn about him the more I like him.

This changes my opinion a little about the possibility of LA riding for Astana. JB already tried the "may the best man win" approach with some success, LA is so cocky .. er, confident .. that he'd do it assuming he'd win, and AC seems of like mind.


They could sell tickets to the 'training' rides!!
I`d have prefered Contador say to Bruyneel, `**** off. I`m 25 years old. I`ve given you a Tour (should`ve been 2), a Giro, and I`m setting up to win the Vuelta. And I gave you a few other results, but who`s counting? This is my team. I wish Lance the best in his efforts to spread the word about Cancer , but this is professional cycling and not a someone`s private fundraising effort.` Of course, he may be thinking as much, but politics dictate never saying so.

Before you all call for my expulsion from BF, take a deep breath. I think Lance is a phenomenal spokeperson for Cancer. He`s tireless in his efforts, articulate in his pleas to Congress, and in every way an enormous asset in the battle for increaded funding and research.

Here`s my nightmare `Astana Scenario.` Lance comes into the Tour as `co-leader`, takes 30 seconds out of Contador in the first time trial, is declared team leader (before the race even touches the climbs), and then has the world`s most capable babysitter to pace him over the peaks. No need to challenge the greatest climber in the world, when you have him as your own wet nurse.

I really hope Lance comes back to the Tour. And I really hope it`s somewhere other than Astana.

Flame away.

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Old 09-12-08, 11:17 AM   #14
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I think from a team strength standpoint, the choice would be SaxoBank. With the loss of Sastre, they don't have a true GC contender. Some may say the Schlecks but Andy wilted during the TT at the Tour. You have to be able to be a half decent time trialist to win the Tour and Andy hasn't proven that yet.

Team Columbia would be a decent choice too given Big George is there and we all saw how bad Kim K did as the GC contender. But in all of the Postal and Discovery years, Lance never had a big sprinter because he wanted teams that can help him in the mountains. So where would Mark Cavandish fit in this approach?

I know there is the whole American team connection thing too but Astana isn't an American team. Plus I can't see Contador roll over for Lance.

If I were Lance, I would have stayed retired. But if I were Lance and coming back, SaxoBank is loaded and gives him the best chance to win.
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Old 09-12-08, 07:46 PM   #15
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This is not like me, but I think a really great name would be Team EGO.

It sorta looks like what everyone's not going to mention flat out, except my 70+ mother who stated over the phone that "he must have some new stuff." (yikes, that's my mom talkin!)

But Team EGO is sort of accurate in that highly focused self aggrandizing way that makes the sport as a whole seem flimsy and shallow. Focus on a couple of races only. Win them. Yay for me.

Maybe he'll win, maybe he'll be clean, maybe he always was. Maybe he won't maybe he never was, and maybe this is what he owes tr*k for shutting down the Greg line.

I really rooted for Lance in the early nineties, and again when he won those first couple of tours. Then I started getting a little less positive about what he does to the sport, and with this... I'm on the cusp of rooting for anyone else.

Well, not the chicken, but you know what I mean.
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Old 09-12-08, 08:08 PM   #16
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Lotto could use a GC contender.
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Old 09-12-08, 09:31 PM   #17
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Armstrong is good buddies with Bob Stapleton, Bob being his former agent and all.

Lance to Colombia.
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Old 09-13-08, 09:59 AM   #18
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Armstrong is good buddies with Bob Stapleton, Bob being his former agent and all.

Lance to Colombia.
I don't know if Lance is going to want to be on a team with another rider who can win four stages in a Tour. The team would spend a lot of energy controlling the flat stages and doing leadouts for Cavendish. On the other hand, I'm not sure that Stapleton would want to risk alienating or losing a rider like Cavendish who has so many years of victories ahead of him. It's sort of like the same dilemma Bruyneel would face by bringing on Lance at Contador's expense.
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Old 09-13-08, 11:39 AM   #19
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Could it be that Lance will have a little sub team within Astana that he will be in charge of to work for him in the TDF. This would mean that essentially Astana would have two small sub teams in the TDF with four riders each. One working for Contador and one working for Armstrong. And both teams working together on certain stages to protect both Contador and Armsrong.

With Contador, Armstrong and Levi on the same team. They would have a realistic possibility of a 123 podium sweep in the TDF. That has to be an exciting possibility for JB. So I can see how he might be tempted to bring on Armstrong.

THe arguments for going to Columbia are strong. A super strong team without a grand tour GC contender. But do they have enough climbers to support Armstrong.

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Old 09-13-08, 02:13 PM   #20
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I don't know if Lance is going to want to be on a team with another rider who can win four stages in a Tour. The team would spend a lot of energy controlling the flat stages and doing leadouts for Cavendish. On the other hand, I'm not sure that Stapleton would want to risk alienating or losing a rider like Cavendish who has so many years of victories ahead of him.
Yeah I seem to recall reading a comment by Lance at some point in the past where he said his dream team would have no sprinters. It takes a lot of effort to support a sprinter properly so yeah Cavendish would probably not get much support on a team focused on Lance winning the GC race. And how long would Cavendish stick around if he got support like McEwan got this year?
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Old 09-13-08, 06:27 PM   #21
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Lotto could use a GC contender.
They have one.



They just signed Kohl for next year.
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Old 09-15-08, 12:50 PM   #22
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y'all are leaving out the most egotistical team out there: Lance to Rock Racing FTW!

(although they sure haven't tried to steer clear of any doping pasts, now have they??)
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Old 09-15-08, 07:03 PM   #23
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They have one.


They just signed Kohl for next year.
Oh yea, forgot about him.
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Old 09-15-08, 07:05 PM   #24
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y'all are leaving out the most egotistical team out there: Lance to Rock Racing FTW!

(although they sure haven't tried to steer clear of any doping pasts, now have they??)
Rock will never get invited to the Tour. The French hate American's enough now and would never allow that brash owner in the club.
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Old 09-16-08, 06:48 AM   #25
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Rock will never get invited to the Tour. The French hate American's enough now and would never allow that brash owner in the club.
The Italians on the other hand should love him -- He's got it all loud mouthed -- flashy -- ?stylish?
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