Schleck responds to team rumors from Italy
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Schleck responds to team rumors from Italy

by VeloNation Press at 10:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

The older of the two Schleck brothers, Frank Schleck, has responded to yesterday's reports in the Gazzetta dello Sport claiming he and his brother Andy were planning to leave Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank outfit to start their own team in 2011. The Italian paper mentioned that the proposed new team would be run by Marc Biver, formerly of Astana, and current Saxo Bank director Kim Anderson would take the role of senior sports director.

When asked about the story in the Italian paper Schleck told Tageblatt, "Oh? Not that I know," shrugging off the news. He added that he and his brother Andy have been "asked by many teams" to consider a change, but the Luxembourger said they need to focus on their racing now adding, "It is now more important [racing], those things [where they will ride next year] don't interest us at the moment anyway."

Even if the brothers were planning a new team, it's not likely they would risk their relationship with Riis and discuss the matter publicly so early in the season. Biver, the man the Italian paper claimed was to run the team, was born in Luxembourg but moved to the French speaking Switzerland at an early age. He took over the Astana cycling team, which was the product of Manolo Saiz's Liberty Seguros team created in the wake of the Operacion Puerto doping scandal. The following year he was forced to step down after several high profile doping cases that included Matthias Kessler, Eddy Mazzoleni, Alexandre Vinokourov and Andrei Kaschekin.

Biver admits that he was somewhat surprised by the Gazzetta article, but said that he had been approached about a new team: "Late last year, at the beginning of this year I had informal discussions [about starting a team]," explained Biver, although he said it wasn't with the Schleck brothers. With regard to the Gazzetta article, Biver said there is "nothing concrete" and he couldn't confirm anything.

The former Astana manager didn't rule out working with the Schleck brothers if his new team does materialize. "It's always a question of circumstances," he said of returning to the sport. "The mentality of Vinokourov or Kashechkin [both tested positive for homologous blood doping in 2007] cannot be compared with the mentality of the Schleck brothers." He was non-committal about returning to the sport adding that he would need guarantees "in terms of ethics and working conditions", but it looks like lips will be sealed on the project - if the Gazzetta dello Sport does have it right - until this year's Tour de France is over.


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