Just when you thought the pro rider transfer season couldn't get any weirder, it appears that Cadel Evans has left his Belgian Silence-Lotto team to head over to the USA/Swiss Team BMC. Evans had one year left on his contract with Silence-Lotto, but he was somehow able to get released from the service of his now-former team.
Given Evans' forgettable performance at the Tour de France, this might not seem to be all that newsworthy, but you might remember that just under two months ago, he won the World Road Championships in Mendrisio Switzerland. So, BMC is not only getting the plucky Australian, they are also getting the rainbow jersey. It is most likely a bit of coincidence that the rider who wore the rainbow jersey before Cadel, Allesandro Ballan, will be riding alongside Evans at Team BMC.
Of course, we will never know why Evans changed teams. Rumour has it that Team BMC, which is owned my multi-millionaire Andy Riis, basically had no budget when it came to signing riders for 2010 so there was a lot of money being offered to the top pros to come to BMC. This might seem a bit sleazy, but that's how it is done in the pro ranks, especially if you are a team like BMC and are looking to move up to the next level in the pro ranks.
Probably the biggest affect of bringing Cadel to Team BMC is that the Tour de France is now a real possibility. Team BMC is a Pro Continental, rather than Pro Tour, team which means they are eligible for a wild card birth to participate in the Tour. Last year, they showed well at the Dauphine Libere. With the likes of Evans, who has twice finished second at the Tour, Team BMC should be a strong candidate for a wild card spot.
If Team BMC does get into the Tour does the squad have enough talent to be able to support Evans, especially in the high mountains? All of their best climbers have never ridden the Tour which probably means that BMC team management might need to get out the checkbook and go shopping for a few more uphill specialists with some Tour experience. George Hincapie, who comes to Team BMC from Columbia-HTC can clearly be the road captain, but the mountains are another story.
Of course, at this point it is only speculation, but until the pros turn a pedal in anger in 2010, that's about all we can do.
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