Italian squad Lampre-Merida want Alberto Contador to join when his contract expires at the end of 2016 - but what chance do they have of signing him?
With Oleg Tinkov planning to pull his sponsorship from the sport at the end of the 2016 season, Contador will be a free agent come the end of the year, with the seven-time Grand Tour winner originally planning to hang up his wheels.
“We already have some contact with Alberto Contador. Who would not be interested in a rider like this? It will not be easy, but we will try,” Lampre-Merida general manager Giuseppe Saronni told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Alberto Contador’s Tour de France bike
Saronni is absolutely right – why wouldn’t the team be interested in a rider who would instantly raise the credibility of the squad?
Bringing Contador on board would give the team a bona fide general classification contender, which it currently lacks. Rui Costa is taken on the leadership at the Tour de France in recent years, but has failed to get close to the top 10, withdrawing from the past two editions.
But the battle for Contador’s signature is guaranteed to be fierce, especially if he puts in a strong performance at the Tour this year.
Trek-Segafredo could be looking for an upgrade in their Grand Tour squads and will have the capital once Fabian Cancellara retires and is off the wage bill. Then there’s the possibility of Contador’s former manager Bjarne Riis getting back into the sport and offering the Spaniard a contract.
This is just the start of transfer speculation that will run throughout the season.