What is what is happening with the cycling world’s proverbial hot potato team, your favorite and mine, the Terrors of Kazakstan, the Dopest of the Dopers, the Infamous Astana you ask?
I’ll tell ya in three words: Leipheimer and Trek. As in Leipheimer will ride for them and Trek’s going to supply the bikes.
American Levi Leipheimer is the next in a long line of Discovery Channel outcasts to have found a position for next season, the Deseret Morning News reported. In an interview with the Utah newspaper, Leipheimer hinted that he’d found a team, saying, “We just can’t say anything yet, but I’m not really on the market anymore.”
The newspaper quoted Leipheimer’s coach, Dr. Max Testa, as confirming that the third place finisher of this year’s Tour de France will accompany Johan Bruyneel and Alberto Contador for the 2008 season. “They just need to make sure everything is just right before they make it official,” said Testa.
Without naming names, I have it on good authority they’ll be riding Treks next year.
I simply cannot believe Trek is going to associate themselves with one of the biggest trainwreck teams on the planet. And yet, I have been assured that it will happen.
How many Astana riders have been implicated in drug scandals recently? I count ten with Puerto alone:
- Joseba Beloki
- Alberto Contador
- David Etxebarría
- Jörg Jaksche
- Isidro Nozal
- Unai Osa
- Sérgio Paulinho
- Michele Scarponi
- Marcos Serrano
- Ángel Vicioso
I realize all these riders are no longer on the squad, maybe even none of them, but who else do they have? Did they completely replace every last man? Even the mechanics and soigneurs?
Are these guys going to able to toe the start line next year? Will the team be un-invited to events? Will the riders be barred from racing?
I don’t know if Bruyneel even considers such things after his brilliant signing of Ivan Basso. We all know how well that worked out.by