While Thor Hushovd won one race between Pau and Lourdes at the 2011 Tour de France on Friday, another was taking place between some of the world's leading teams to secure the Norwegian's signature for the 2012 season.
Cyclingnews understands that Hushovd has already received offers from BMC Racing, Saxo Bank, Europcar and Vacansoleil and will also discuss a contract renewal with Garmin-Cervélo on Monday, the Tour's second rest day. Together with his agent Alex Carera, the world champion will then continue negotiations with his two preferred suitors before finally making his decision.
At present, BMC Racing and Saxo Bank are believed to be Hushovd's favoured destinations. At Saxo Bank, the 33-year-old could link up with the German Tony Martin. The HTC-Highroad star is also rumoured to be high on Bjarne Riis's wish list.
Monday promises to be a busy day for Carera and his peers, particularly with HTC-Highroad chief Bob Stapleton expected to tell his riders and their agents whether he is in a position to discuss contract renewals beyond the end of this year. Stapleton told Cyclingnews on Thursday that his efforts to secure new sponsorship and a future for his team are ongoing. Stapleton still hopes to prolong his team's partnership with mobile phone giants HTC, but is also exploring "other avenues including some creative solutions".
Should Stapleton's efforts prove unsuccessful, the market will be flooded with the talent which has made his team the most prolific winners in the peloton. With Mark Cavendish strongly rumoured to be leaving for Sky, it will come as no surprise that his faithful domestiques, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel, are also in the British team's sights. Leopard-Trek have also declared their interest in Eisel, while Renshaw may yet follow many of his Aussie compatriots to GreenEdge.