How bold is Bjarne Riis?
We ask because that’s what this is going to take: a bold, unconventional, creative and devil-may-care attitude.
Riis is riding through a dark time and the traditional solutions are no longer applicable. The Brother Schleck swiped his entire team and left him with crumbs. Cancellara, Fuglsang, Voigt and the two skinny Luxem-burglers are gone.
Then his best and only hope for a Phoenix-like resurrection of Saxo Bank is in deep trouble and possibly headed for a suspension. Riis is desperately praying that the UCI won’t sanction Alberto Contador for traces of clenbuterol but right now nobody knows what’s going to happen — and that includes the UCI.
Riis is sitting at home in Denmark, winter coming on fast, temperatures plummeting and his spirits near zero. These are dark, depressing days and the firewood is running low.
There are even rumors that Riis has lost his mind, driving the Saxo team bus deep into the snowy Løvenholm forest and camping inside, subsisting on canned food and straight vodka while reading Krakauer’s Into The Wild. But we digress…
Riis is a man known for his unconventional thinking, his training innovations, Danish commando-style team bonding exercises and insistence on technical advances in equipment. This is no time for the wily Dane to play safe or sit back and hope Alberto’s adverse analytic finding just goes away.
The fact is, Contador may indeed be suspended and when he returns, may not be ready to perform at the highest level in a grand tour. Riis knows just how dire the circumstances are because he’s even considered signing the emaciated, disgraced and mentally unstable Michael Rasmussen. Given that every other top GC rider was signed up for 2011 months ago, it would appear that the crazy Rasmussen was the only option.
We said bold and we mean bold. There’s one rider out there that’s completely off the radar, a proven top GC rider, a man with a 100 things to prove to the world. He’s fresh, insanely motivated, desperate for cash and totally available right this second.
Bjarne Riis, it’s time to sign Floyd Landis.
That’s right, the mad Mennonite, the Man WHo Shot Lance Armstrong, the scourge of American cycling. Too bold and unconventional, you say? If you’re Bjarne Riis, consider the alternative should Contador get an enforced vacation. “Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present Saxo Bank 2011: Nick Nuyens and three Spanish domestics.”
Landis has his new hip, a clear conscience, an empty bank account and a burning desire to show the world he could still be great. He’s still got something in the tank. He’s at home in Idlyywild reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss. That’s right, he’s going to Saxo Bank, baby.
Bjarne, be bold.