Team Sky confirms signing an Irish rider could be of strategic importance, won’t comment on Deignan speculation
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Team Sky confirms signing an Irish rider could be of strategic importance, won’t comment on Deignan speculation

by Shane Stokes at 12:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Rider’s agent says climber ‘looks likely’ to be back in the WorldTour next year

Philip DeignanPhilip Deignan looks to have a strong chance of returning to the WorldTour level next year, with a solid level of interest in him after what has been a good season.

The Irishman won the Tour of Gila in May and then went on to take third on a stage plus ninth overall in the Tour of California. He was also second overall in the Tour de Beauce. The UnitedHealthcare rider is currently taking place in the Tour of Utah and was eighth on yesterday’s mountainous third stage.

“We are in talks with a couple of teams, and it does look likely he will be back in the WorldTour next year,” his agent Andrew McQuaid told VeloNation. “However there is nothing concrete at this point in time.”

Deignan has been rumoured to be of interest to Team Sky, but McQuaid plays down any suggestion that a deal is in place.

Contacted by VeloNation, the British squad would not be drawn on whether or not the climber was on its wish list. “We never comment on riders currently under contract with other teams, even during the transfer period,” stated Fran Millar, the Head of Business Operations.

Millar did however acknowledge that signing an Irish rider could be advantageous for the WorldTour squad. “I can confirm Ireland is of strategic importance to Team Sky, along with the UK, Italian, North American and German markets,” she said. “Our shareholders have interests in each of those territories.”

Following a strong amateur career, Deignan turned pro in 2005 for the Ag2r La Mondiale team. He took fifth in the European championships that year and was ninth in the world under 23 road race championships.

He remained with the French squad until the end of 2008, then transferred to the Cervélo Test Team. He was given leadership for the 2009 Vuelta a España and won a stage plus placed ninth overall. After the team stopped one year later, he spent a season with the RadioShack squad and then moved to UnitedHealthcare in 2012.

Deignan’s progress after his strong 2009 year was impeded somewhat by injury and illness but he has shown a return to form this year. He is aiming for a strong overall performance in the Tour of Utah and also wants to ride as well as possible in the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

On the basis of his performances earlier this year, a top ten finish or better appears to be within his capabilities.

Aside from the motivation of posting strong results, the thoughts of returning to the WorldTour next year will give him added incentive. He’s also aiming for selection for the Irish team at the world road race championships, knowing that the hilly course there could suit the squad.

The 29 year old is a strong climber and has already made clear he is willing to ride for Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner and Tour de France stage victor Dan Martin in Firenze. Nicolas Roche, who is expected to be selected, has already committed to helping his first cousin.


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