I admit that I spent too much time watching the Tour de France. I keep up with the pro racing scene all year,but with near-saturation programming on Versus of live coverage in the morning and repeats all day, I just fell into the Tour. This year's Astana drama and some really good racing kept things pretty interesting, even if some of the stage routes could have been more exciting. Now, it's over and I have my life back.....
There is still plenty going on. I'm really interested in the rumors of pending transfers of riders between teams. Riders can't discuss negotiations or commitments to other teams until September 1, so everyone is being quite coy. With RadioShack and the British Team Sky starting from scratch and existing teams looking to sign a star or replace departing riders, the market for the riders is far better than it was even a year ago. At that time, sponsor dollars were drying up faster than a summer shower on hot asphalt, teams were folding and riders were scrambling to find new homes, with many being forced on to second-tier teams to extend their careers.
Perhaps the most intriguing is talk of Andy Schleck going to RadioShack.
That would be interesting: Lance hires Andy Schleck so he and Andy can team up to kick Contador's ass next year. I would think that would create a similar leadership issue to this year's, except for the fact that Andy would be going in knowing that Lance is the boss. It would also eliminate a key competitor for Armstrong. The story is that they want Andy without brother Frank. Without a team leadership role and without his brother, I don't see Andy making the move. The longer view is that Andy is only 24 years old and Lance can't ride forever. A year of playing second-fiddle to a 7-time Tour winner might be a small price if it means taking over as the leader of the Bruyneel-Armstrong dynasty in a couple of years. In the meantime, there are plenty of other races to be won by Andy if Lance gets to carry the ball at the Tour.
We'll see how it pans out in the next few weeks. One bet I am willing to make is the RadioShack is going to be a force to be reckoned with, with or without Schleck.