Mystery surrounds Andy and Fränk Schleck’s new Luxembourg-based team, but some details have come clear at the UCI’s deadline for teams to submit their riders approaches.
“The funding is in place and we are ready to submit the name of the team next month,” team manager, Brian Nygaard, told Denmark’s TV2 Sport. “We will present the top 15 riders in the UCI in October, but we’ve always intended to have 25 riders.”
Sky’s former press officer, Dane Nygaard officially took over the role in June alongside the team’s head sports director, fellow Dane Kim Andersen, who left his post at Saxo Bank. Brian Holm, also from Denmark, has decided to stay with Mark Cavendish’s HTC-Columbia.
The Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project is the name of the team for now, the one the UCI released as part of the 14 teams applying for eight first division, ProTour licences. The UCI ProTour Council (UPTC) will announce a provisional list of teams in just less than two months time, November 20.
The team’s name will change as sponsors are confirmed, but, according to newspaper Le Quotidien, the name will remain generic – maybe Team Luxembourg – to clearly identify the team’s and its star riders’ nationalities.
Nygaard explained at the start of this month that Luxembourger Flavio Becca, a businessman, is behind the new team. Becca committed to sign the Schlecks and is helping secure sponsors. He may have up to five companies sponsoring the team, possibly including a Russian mobile telephone company.
The Schlecks have raced on Specialized bicycles at Saxo Bank for the last two years and are currently doing so at the Vuelta a España, where Fränk is ninth overall. However, another American manufacturer, Trek, may supply bikes to the new team since it will lose top billing with Lance Armstrong’s retirement.
Nygaard and Andersen will need to identify the sponsors and the riders to the UCI soon to be considered for a ProTour licence. The Schlecks confirmed their places on the team via Twitter on August 15, but they have been the only ones to do so. Linus Gerdemann, Joost Posthuma, Brice Feillu, Daniele Bennati, Jakob Fuglsang, Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt and Dominic Klemme are all possible signees.
Swiss Fabian Cancellara is one signee that is up in the air.
“It is an open secret that other teams are interested in me. I have to say, some interesting suggestions have been made, which would also offer me long-term opportunities for the future, beyond cycling,” Cancellara said yesterday on his personal website.
“I am communicating with Bjarne Riis openly, and, of course, we have discussed this situation. I am delighted that Bjarne will come to the Vuelta and that we will be able to talk about these issues.”
The winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix has talked with Nygaard and home team BMC Racing. However, his future my not be as mysterious as Luxembourg’s team as Bjarne Riis confirmed two weeks ago that Cancellara has a contract for next season.