Saunier Duval, last seen pacelining off to the cycling gulags, is apparently about to pull off a completely improbable resurrection for 2009... as a Mexican-accented top team. DS Joxean Fernandez Matxin told Marca, via CN, that he's got two major sponsors coming on board, one each from Europe and Mexico. Combined with current title sponsor American Beef, that apparently adds up to a working budget and a pretty heavy Mexican presence. There are even rumors of Raul Alcala taking a place in the lineup. Old guys rule!
While the Ricco-Piepoli affair has left a pretty nasty stench around the team, it's hard for me not to get excited about the Mexicanization of the peloton. I freaking love Mexico, on the basis of a handful of vacations, coupla movies, a permanent place in the top five of the world cuisine rankings, and numerous associations with the people both there and in the US. True, the country's contribution to Cycling hasn't been especially strong in Europe, but Latin America in general is starting to regain a presence, not just from Colombia, so having one team from anyplace south of San Diego is probably about right. And if the next time David de la Fuente wins he is greeted at the line by Mariachis playing "Guadalajara," the world will be a slightly better place.
Turning serious for a moment, I wonder what the wave of investment into cycling means. At best, it's an indicator that Cycling has sent out the "it's safe to go back in the water" signal, and the buyers believe 'em. At worst, the sport has done what LeMond says, forcing out Clerc as an indication that the sport intends to declare peace by burying its head back in the sand... a short-term victory for investors but a disaster for the sport. And at a minimum, we can assume the investments are buying low. Stay tuned.