Tour de France

Tour notebook: Astana’s new bike sponsor, Froome to Giro?

The VeloNews Tour team reports on the latest transfer rumors and distills some of the chatter about the start list for the upcoming Vuelta

Our Tour de France reporters already bring you the biggest stories and best analysis every day. But what of the notes they scrawl in the margins, those little bits of gossip and narrative that are as much a part of the Tour as Chris Froome and the color yellow, but which rarely see the light of day? You’ll find those here.

Notes from the margins

Froome to Giro?
The latest rumor going around is that Sky’s Chris Froome will attempt the Giro-Tour double in 2017. Froome hasn’t raced the Giro since 2010, and whispers suggest that Giro organizers are trying to entice the Tour winner to Italy next year. Team Sky are being mum about his post-Tour plans, however. A lot of it likely depends on how well he does in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. If he races the Vuelta a España as he has four of the past five years (he skipped it in 2013 after winning his first Tour), Froome likely wouldn’t race the Giro. If he doesn’t race the Vuelta, the Giro might be in the cards.

Astana’s new bikes
More paddock rumors: Specialized will pull out of Astana, so which bike brand will take its place? It seems Argon 18 is interested. The brand is losing its current team, Bora – Argon 18, as Specialized will follow Peter Sagan to the new Bora – Hansgrohe squad. So the two brands will switch.

Vuelta start list improving
Even if Froome doesn’t go, the 2016 Vuelta start list keeps improving by the day. Dani Navarro (Cofidis) was the latest Tour refugee to confirm a plan to race the Vuelta a España next month. Other big names include Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), who will return at the Clásica San Sebastián and Vuelta a Burgos, as well as Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). French sprinter Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), on the other hand, has confirmed he will not race the Vuelta despite missing the Tour due to a hand injury.

Hidden agony of the Tour de France
Riders are proud. They almost always put on brave faces for the TV cameras, even after great disappointment.

Pierre Rolland’s GC hopes disappeared with a crash in the second week. Then on Friday his front wheel slipped and sent him sliding across his back just as a stage win seemed within his grasp. He still stood in front of the French TV cameras after the stage and answered all their questions and then some from the written press. When the journalists had all gone he crossed his arms over his face and broke. It was a stirring reminder of how much the Tour means to the men inside it.

More trade rumors
August 1, officially the opening day of transfer season, is still more than a week away, but the rumors are flying. Oleg Tinkov confirmed that Peter Sagan is heading to Bora next year, telling ITV that the deal was signed two months ago. The rumored salary? Six million euros per season, making him cycling’s first Six Million Dollar Man. Other whispers? IAM’s Colombian climbing sensation Jarlinson Pantano is heading to Trek – Segafredo, and Rafal Majka will follow Sagan to Bora. Still not much hitting the rumor mill about whom Team Sky will be signing for 2017. Astana’s Diego Rosa is the only big name so far linked to the British outfit.

The new Bahrain team, which has been taking some heat from activists who say the sport shouldn’t let the regime use cycling as a diversion from alleged human rights abuses, is still set to go. A press conference to officially unveil the team (with Vincenzo Nibali as its star) is set for the first week of August.

Coming up

Sunday’s stage: Paris!

Weather update: Sunny, highs near 80˚F. Lovely.