Saxo-Sungard boss Bjarne Riis raised some eyebrows today with his announcement that he plans on starting Alberto Contador in the Vuelta a Murcia in March. Contador is technically suspended pending a conclusion of his case for clenbuterol. Usually a suspended rider is out until he's cleared. But the suggestion is that Riis is pulling a Bruyneel here -- a la the Discovery Channel maneuver of signing and racing Ivan Basso while his Operacion Puerto case simmered, only to be pulled shortly thereafter when he was made to confess. [Not the same as "decided to confess."] Nobody liked it then. Let's see if they like it now.
Riis, for his part, is either being cryptic and assuming his case will be resolved (successfully) by then, or acting desperately after his team was gutted and he signed the shiniest object in the peloton to replace his former squad. Riis is well within his rights to verbally support Contador, and actions in March will mean a lot more than comments in December. So no harm just yet. But would it kill him to speak with more hesitation about racing a guy under suspicion?