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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky)
Basso links up with Riis once more
With Ivan Basso signed and Michael Rogers extending his contract, Tinkoff-Saxo will turn their attention to bolstering their one-day squad with Edvald Boasson Hagen their next principle transfer target. General Manager Stefano Feltrin confirmed to Cyclingnews that the team had offered the Norwegian a contract for next year, with a potential move creating a mouth-watering prospect of both Boasson Hagen and Peter Sagan racing in the same colours.
Sagan inked his multi-year deal earlier this month but Feltrin believes that the Slovak and Boasson Hagen, who confirmed he will leave Team Sky at the end of the year, could provide one of the most dynamic and exciting partnerships at WorldTour level.
"At the moment it’s up to the rider and agent. We’ve made our intentions very clear and that’s where we are. I don’t work off gut feelings, but we think he would make a nice addition," Feltrin told Cyclingnews.
Boasson Hagen appears to be weighing up his options before making an official announcement. He is rumoured to be asking for upwards of one million Euros per-season but interest has been expressed by several teams including MTN-Qhubeka, Tinkoff-Saxo and Giant-Shimano.
Having already secured the services of Sagan, Feltrin will not be rushed into the market for a second time and stressed that new recruits must be tempted to the team by more than mere financial gain.
"We believe it’s possible that they could race together and it’s a very attractive strategic proposition. Could it happen? I don’t know but there’s no rush. What we’re looking for are riders who really want to join our team. If a rider has any second thoughts then our team is not the right place for them. We have no pressure, we have a solid group but we’re not in any rush. We can add a few additions but there’s time and the transfer window has only been open for nineteen days. However we want riders who are 110 per cent committed to the group and nothing less."
Last week it appeared that negotiations between the team and rider had cooled, with Oleg Tinkov taking to Twitter with a less than cryptic message. "Although I adore Norwegian music, I don't like some of the Norwegian "pro"-cyclists - they are messy and behave like girls. Shame."
Feltrin’s update on the situation was somewhat more diplomatic.
"We’ve had a lot of contact with the agent but at the moment we don’t have anything official to announce. What I can say is that they have a peculiar way of negotiating contracts and I can’t go further than that. A contract has not been signed."
"Money is part of it, yes but we have an approach and we stick to our budget. If someone has a higher value of what they think they’re worth and it’s more than we’re prepared to pay, then it’s not going to happen. I know it’s a professional world and if someone comes up with an offer, and a rider thinks that money is the most important part of the equation then he should go for it."
Basso rejoins Riis
While the Boasson Hagen situation rumbles on the team has announced that Ivan Basso has signed a two-year deal with the squad. Basso, who will be 37 at the start of next season, has been signed for his experience and will feature in both grand tours and week-long events.
"He wants to finish his career on a high note, not like on the year he’s had now, so we sat down and things came around quite quickly," Feltrin told Cyclingnews.
Basso rode for Bjarne Riis during his CSC days (2004-2006). He was also banned as part of Operación Puerto but came back to win the Giro d’Italia for a second time in 2010. However, the last two years have seen the veteran struggle for both form and results. Feltrin believes that the rider will add experience to the team and that success in week-long stage races is still possible.
“We’ve a lot of young talent on our team but we also need some experience to guide them on how to race and how to deal with stress."
“For Ivan if he’s not the captain for a three week race then he can do well at week long races and help the team in other races. We see Ivan as a helper for a captain at a grand tour – whether it’s Majka or Contador but he’ll still have space to race as a leader in week-long events."
"Of course we had a concern with his age and results and we looked at it. The bottom line, and I think he realised it, he wasn’t able to cope with the pressure of being a team leader for a Grand Tour. Once you take that away from him I think he can be more relaxed and do a different type of ride. He’s a pro and he doesn’t want to just ride the bike for the sake of it. He has the motivation to step up and we’re not just racing to show off our jersey."
Four riders to leave
Feltrin also confirmed that at least four riders would leave the team at the end of the season. Karsten Kroon is expected to retire this season and although Nicolas Roche has been offered a new deal the Irishman is set to join another WorldTour team – rumoured to be Team Sky.
"We have four riders who are almost certain to leave the team. I’d prefer for them to announce their futures but one is probably Kroon, who I think will retire. There might be a few more that leave but there will not be a massive turn around, with maybe four or five riders leaving and the same number joining."