Reports in Italy and Spain suggest that Saxo Bank-Sungard boss Bjarne Riis may turn to Denis Menchov if Alberto Contador’s ban for doping is confirmed. According to El Diario Vasco, the rumours stem from Menchov’s Geox team, which did not receive the
World Tour ranking it was looking for to guarantee a place in the sport’s major events.
The rumours suggest that Geox may be willing to reach a deal on Menchov in order to reduce their budgetary commitments by a significant amount this season. Menchov’s salary is approximately two million euros a year.
It has already been revealed that Riis approached Omega Pharma’s Jurgen Van den Broeck as a potential replacement for Contador, but Menchov may offer a better short-term option. With as much as five million euros to play with if Contador’s ban in confirmed, Riis could certainly afford to take on the Russian, who has overall victories in the Giro and Vuelta to his credit.
This option could also be attractive to the Russian, who left Rabobank for Geox on the assumption that his new Italian team would receive World Tour status and guarantee him access to the major tours, and particularly the Tour de France, where he finished a strong third last season.