Thor Hushovd joins BMC in 2012
The speculation finally came to an end today – Thor Hushovd is joining BMC in 2012 for three years at an undisclosed amount. To quote the BMC press release, “Exact terms of Hushovd’s contract are not being disclosed other than the deal extends through the end of the 2014 season.” We can be assured that the big Norwegian’s deal will include a BMC bike and plenty of clothes. Now, what about the other rumored transfer of the 2011 season – Philippe Gilbert? Will he be joining his buddy Thor on the American registered team?
With the addition of Thor this bumps BMC up a notch regarding the Spring Classics. In the team’s stable is George Hincapie, Alessandro Ballan, Marcus Burghardt, Manuel Quinziato and of course Taylor Phinney who just scored his first “big boy” win at the Eneco Tour’s prologue. At BMC Hushovd can get the undivided attention he needs to win the Queen of the Classics, something he seems to allude to in the BMC press release saying, “”There’s a plan put together for the riders for all the big and important races. Everyone knows what to do. That’s a good thing.” Translation – I’m no one’s bitch and I need riders to know I’m swinging the big hammer.
To win at Paris-Roubaix, Lady Luck needs to be on your side – as well as a few teammates. With Hincapie, Burghardt and Quinziato at his side, Hushovd will have the firepower to bring back, for example, an attacking Fabian Cancellara. Yeah I’m calling it now, Cancellara will attack with 40k remaining in an attempt to win Roubaix.
For the sake of argument, what happens if Gilbert joins the BMC squad? On the surface that might seem like a conflict of interest for Hushovd as the squad would be divided between the two Classic leaders. I don’t think that will be the case. Gilbert is from the French speaking side of Belgium and as such his affinity is toward Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastone-Liege. His style of riding favors the punchy one-day Ardennes Classics. Sure Thor can perform in those situations as well, but I have to think that before the deal was done Hushovd’s agent must have had some assurances that his boy would be a protected rider in Roubaix.
You might have noticed I didn’t include Hincapie as someone who can win Paris-Roubaix. While I’ll always cheer loudly for George, he’ll remain a dark-horse favorite. He’s just not a closer when it comes to Roubaix. It might be part poor luck, split alliances on the squad or just having bad legs when it comes down to the race winning move – I just don’t know. However, he’ll always be a valuable member of a Paris-Roubaix squad and if Thor wins this Northern Belgium classic for BMC, I’m sure he’ll thank Hincapie.
Adding Hushovd to BMC requires some cash. As noted he’s a threat in the Classics and a double stage winner in this year’s Tour de France. Those skills don’t come cheap. Now, add to the mix the potential of Gilbert slipping on the red and black kit too. That’s a whole lot of Euros. To date, BMC hasn’t picked up an additional title sponsor to help with the BMC team bank account. So where’s the money coming from? No doubt it’s from uber fan and team owner Andy Rihs who’s using his own money and making it rain to attract talented riders. Now let’s face facts – while BMC makes great bikes I doubt the Swiss company is selling enough to bankroll the squad. I live in Greenville, hometown of George Hincapie, and I don’t know where I can buy a BMC bike in this town other than order one on-line from Colorado Cyclist. Could the influx of talented riders joining, or rumored to join, BMC drive the company into bankruptcy?
The excellent Red Kite Prayer blog stated that multiple sources told him Cervelo’s co-sponsorship of Garmin almost bankrupted the Canadian bike company. Savvy businessman Bob Stapleton tried to find a sponsor for hisHTC-Highroad team and he couldn’t get anyone to pull the trigger. Stapleton is a wealthy man and smart enough to know that you don’t run a team with your own money – you get investors to carry the financial burden. Here’s to hoping that BMC the bike company is selling enough impac frames and 29er mountain bikes to keep the squad on the road.