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Team owner calls press conference in Copenhagen
Bjarne Riis is expected to announce the name of a new main sponsor and perhaps confirm Alberto Contador as his new team leader at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Riis will speak to media at the Skt Petri Hotel in Copenhagen, one of the most luxurious hotels in the Danish capital. He has already announced that US software company SunGard will be one of two main sponsors for 2011 and speculation is rife about who the second name will be.
The Tour of Denmark begins on Wednesday in the western town of Holstebro but the fact that Riis has called his press conference in Copenhagen could mean he is ready to announce something important as he rebuilds his team after Andy and Frank Schleck confirmed they will ride elsewhere in 2011.
US bike manufacturer Specialized is widely expected to play a key role in the team and whichever sponsor is eventually announced, the team will ride Specialized bikes in 2011. Possible sponsors that have been linked to Riis include Siemens and Danish wind turbine company Vestas, which has three component factories in Colorado and has recently decided to open a research and development facility in Boulder.
Alberto Contador has a personal sponsorship deal with Specialized for another two years and after the Tour de France winner refused to bow to an ultimatum from Astana last week, it seems highly likely that the California-based company is working on bringing Contador and Riis together.
Contador's arrival would spark a transformation of Riis’ team. Fabian Cancellara and Australia’s Richie Porte are both under contract for 2011 but Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and Nicki and Chris Anker Sorensen have all been linked to the new Luxembourg team for 2011. Key mechanics and soigneurs are also believed to be going to the new team with the Schleck brothers.
Contador is due to ride a criterium in Belgium on Monday evening and so could even be present at the press conference in Copenhagen. Under UCI rules riders can sign contracts with teams from August 1. No formal announcements of deals can be made until September 1 but with Astana having already confirmed that Contador is to leave the team, Riis could announce his new sponsor and his new team leader for 2011.