More big news from the world of cycling, with the confirmation of a new race coming to the U.S. next year, and Tour de France winner Alberto Contador jumping to Team Saxo Bank.
First up, yesterday Lance Armstrong and Colorado Governor Bill Ritter announced the Quiznos Pro Challenge, a new stage race that will launch in 2011, beginning and ending in Denver. The event will play out over seven stages in seven days and will include a little something for ever type of rider, including mountain climbs, urban time trials, sprint stages, and more. Expect more details on the course, distance, and riders in the near future.
When Armstrong was pressed on whether or not he would participate in the inaugural event that he says is for the future of cycling in the U.S., he simply responded with “Would I like to? Yes. Would I be fit enough? Probably not. But we will see. Never say never.”
The other big cycling news to come out recently is that Alberto Contador has jumped ship from Team Astana, with whom he won the Tour de France the past two years, and has joined Team Saxo Bank. The Spaniard was expected to follow manager Bjarne Riis where ever he ended up, and that is exactly what he has done. Contador is now under a two year contract with the Danish squad, whose former stars, Frank and Andy Schleck if departed to form their own team.
Meanwhile, adding even more intrigue to this story, is the rumors that disgraced rider Michael Rasmussen would be joining Saxo Bank as well. Rasmussen was last seen in the Tour de France in 2007 when he donned the Yellow Jersey in the mountains, only to be dismissed from the race for skipping drug testing sessions. (That’s a no-no Michael!) He was later banned from the sport for two years, and has now returned, at the age of 36, but has been riding in much smaller, second tier events.
Rasmussen is a former mountain biker and is known for is ability to climb. It is believed that he could help protect Contador in the big mountain stages much the same way that his Astana teammates have done the past few years. But having been out of high level cycling for three years now leaves a lot of questions about Rasmussen’s abilities.
Cycling. It’s like a giant soap opera, with blood doping.