Riis & the Russian. Will Menchov end up at Saxo Bank?
Patience, Bjarne, patience.
Put down the vodka bottle and the revolver because things are looking up. Eventually the worm turns and out of blackness, a Russian star appears.
Yesterday the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that primary sponsor Geox is reconsidering their wallet following news that Mauro Gianetti’s team failed to secure ProTeam status. The Italian footwear company may be walking.
Should that domino fall, the second will be Russian Denis Menchov trying to jump ship and find at legit ProTour team that can guarantee him a ride in the Tour de France or Giro. A third in the last tour has him thinking yellow and, at age 32, he doesn’t want to waste a season begging for a ticket in.
That would be sweet and unexpected news for the hard-luck Riis, who lost most of his team to the Brothers Schleck and the small nation of Luxembourg only to pull a Spanish rabbit out of the hat in Alberto Contador only to potentially lose him in the meat-gate doping scandal. Whew, long sentence.
In any case, the Russian bear would solve some serious problems, fill serious holes and Bjarne could keep his sponsor happy. In fact, perhaps Geox will decide to help fund Saxo instead — stranger things have happened in this topsy-turvy sport.
Alberto Contador says the stress of the doping allegations is so bad his hair is falling out — should Riis sign Menchov, hair may grow on the Dane’s bald head. Happiness is hair follicles.
Riis could yet place a rider on the podium in a grand tour without resorting to desperate acts like hiring wacko Denis Rasmussen. Ahh, you see, he can sign a Denis, just not that Denis. The bear, not the chicken.
Then imagine Contador escapes with his pride and yellow jersey and trace elements of clenbuterol and plasticizes and now you’ve got a powerhouse team ready to make noise. Big D and AC — sounds like hip hop.
Just a few days ago Menchov was dumping on Andre Tchmil, Katusha and the Global Cycling project. He said he was still happier to be at Geox because of the old “respect” issue.
Amusing really — the respect thing doesn’t seem to go over well in Russia or Kazakhstan as Alberto Contador continues to bemoan the lack of support or gratitude from his old squad — something former manager Johan Bruyneel claimed on his way out the door with Lance for Radio Shack.
However, the other classic issue is the money one. No euros, no Menchov. This isn’t a guy riding for nothing like those clueless Xacobeo Galicia guys who are just now getting their paychecks.
If Geox walks, Twisted Spoke thinks Denis Menchov is Bjarne’s new best buddy.