Alberto Contador's move from Astana to Bjarne Riis' new and improved Saxo Bank-Sungard squad has all the hallmarks of the right move at the right time.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

Alberto Contador's move from Astana to Bjarne Riis' new and improved
Saxo Bank-Sungard squad has all the hallmarks of the right move at the
right time.

In making the jump, Contador has not only
strengthened Riis' hand in winning another Grand Tour but also improved
his own prospects of adding to his personal Tour tally.

What
we're seeing is a mating of arguably the strongest ProTour squad with
the best Grand Tour rider of his generation.

And in all
likelihood Contador will be supported by a younger, possibly stronger
version of Saxo Bank if you believe all the transfer rumours.

Also
likely to join Contador at the Danish team will be a contingent of
Spaniards prepared to die in a ditch for him.

Expect to see guys
like Benjamin Noval, Daniel Navarro, David De La Fuente join the likes
of Jakob Fuglsang, Richie Porte Matti Breschel, Chris Anker Sorensen and
Fabian Cancellara in helping Contador rack up a fourth Tour win.

Add
that up and Saxo Bank-Sungard will again be a powerful, hard-to-beat
squad - even more so with Contador at the helm.

And what of the
mooted loss of veterans like Stuart O'Grady and Jens Voigt to the new
Luxembourg based formation the now departed Schleck Brothers are rumored
to be joining?

Well I see that as a win for Riis and Contador -
there is only so much those two battered bodies have left to give.

Both
O'Grady and Voigt are effectively at the very end of their respective
careers and I'm betting both don't have much left in the tank, and I'm
pretty damn sure the hardheaded Riis is thinking exactly the same thing.

Sure,
both O'Grady and Voigt represent a significant loss of leadership, but
with Riis in control, Cancellara the 'patron' of the peloton and
Contador clearly able to win despite unsettled internal team dynamics,
it will be hard to bet against them.

And what of Andy and Frank
Schleck and their new team? Well at this stage of the game there are
more unknowns than knowns. Officially, we still don't know who the
Schlecks will be riding for.

We'll have to let the cycling
rumour mill ruminate over the possibilities until we hit the official
September 1st transfer market date.

Finally I have to address
what I consider to be a bit of irrational exuberance by Contador and
Riis - maybe the press conference was at altitude.

"Alberto's
ambition is to win all three major stage races in the same year, and I
want to be part of it, it is not certain that it will be next year, but
the ambition is to succeed in one of the next few years. I believe that
it is feasible," said Bjarne Riis at the presser announcing Contador's
signing.

Say what? I'll have what they're having.

I think
the 2010 Tour de France conclusively proved that goal (fantasy?) is
utterly out of reach. The sport has changed too much for any rider to
dominate the grand tours for an entire season.

Riders like
Ivan Basso and Denis Menchov can attest to that fact.

Basso came
into the Tour de France with high hopes but legless after winning the
Giro, fading to
finish almost an hour behind the winner.
A
similar situation to Menchov in 2009.

This time around, Menchov
passed on defending his 2009 Giro title and was richly rewarded with a
podium place in Paris.

Over the three weeks the Russian showed
strength and consistency and was rarely out of sight of Contador or
Schleck - he did not leave his legs in Italy as he did in 2009.

Riis
not only risks burning out Contador but his entire team if he chooses
to pursue that goal - best to focus on something achievable - eclipsing
Lance Armstrong's seven Tour titles.