Latest News in Cycling
MILAN (VN) — Flavio Becca’s brief foray into professional cycling will end this season, according to Luxembourg’s press, when he sells RadioShack-Leopard’s UCI WorldTour license. What started as a friendship and a passion ends with a handshake and a check signed by Trek Bicycles.
According to Luxembourg daily Tageblatt, Becca will sell his team’s first division license to Trek for the 2014 season. Trek has been the bicycle sponsor since the team was formed in 2011.
“I’m a friend of the Schleck’s and their dad. We share a great passion for hunting,” Becca, who is from Luxembourg, said at the time. “They proposed the idea, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity.”
The team, with the Schleck’s and other problems, has taken its toll on the businessman. Since the start, it has mostly raced downhill, underscored by Frank Schleck’s doping positive at the Tour de France and general manager Johan Bruyneel’s dismissal last year.
Trek, according to Tageblatt, will restructure the team based on stars Fabian Cancellara and Andy Schleck. Luca Guercilena will remain as general manager, but it is assumed that some heads will roll. Bruyneel’s right-hand men, Dirk Demol and Kim Andersen, and other sports directors may be looking for new jobs.
Frank Schleck may never race for the team again. According to the newspaper, Becca is trying to annul his contract due to the financial problems and bad publicity stemming from his positive test.
Frank Schleck was caught using the banned diuretic Xipamide at last year’s Tour de France. He was kicked out of the Tour and received a one-year ban that expires next month. It is unclear whether another team would sign him for the remainder of 2013 or if Trek would pick him up for 2014. If Trek does not, it would be the first time the Schleck brothers have raced on different teams.
The Trek buyout would also dispel IAM Cycling rumors. The second division Swiss team was reported to be uniting with Trek and Cancellara to apply for a WorldTour (first division) license for next season.
If Becca sold his license, Trek would securely race in the WorldTour, as RadioShack’s license runs through 2014. At the moment, according Luxembourg’s Le Quotidien, Becca says that news is “pure speculation.”
The buyout would end Becca’s spotted history in cycling. In 2010, he began working with Andersen and then Saxo Bank press officer Brian Nygaard to start the team. In 2011, it debuted as Leopard-Trek with Nygaard as the GM.
In a push for money, Becca accepted a deal with Bruyneel that saw the Belgian take over as GM and bring in sponsor RadioShack. He paid dearly. Bruyneel is part of the U.S. case against Lance Armstrong and is said to have helped and encouraged doping.
The news only added to the team’s problems: Schleck’s positive test and reports of unpaid salaries. Nissan and RadioShack pulled their sponsorships, and Bruyneel was axed.
Fresh off his victory at the Giro d’Italia, Vincenzo Nibali signed a contract extension with Astana on Thursday that will keep him on the Kazakhstan-based squad through 2016.
General Manager Alexander Vinokourov, himself a former Astana rider, and Kazakhstan’s Cycling Federation Vice President Darkhan Amanovich Kaletaev announced the news at a press conference in Kazakhstan’s capital city after which the team is named.
“We are very pleased to prolong our contract with Vincenzo Nibali today in Astana, and look forward to supporting his clear-eyed start to the Vuelta a Espana in August and a strong run at the world championships in Firenze at the end of September,” Vinokurov said, according to a team release.
Nibali’s Giro victory was the second grand tour win of his career; he also won the 2010 Vuelta a Espana.