Steegmans ready for new start alongside Armstrong
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Steegmans ready for new start alongside Armstrong

by Conal Andrews at 10:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Belgian sprinter Gert Steegmans will soon meet up with his RadioShack team-mates for the first time, and is raring to go. “My head is completely clear again.”

"Because of my problems with Katyusha, I got back on the bike much earlier than usual,” he told the Het Belang van Limburg, referring to his long period on the sidelines this year. “I am far enough [in terms of fitness]. I’m not nervous about the training camp – it’s only a camp. But the U.S. is far to fly for a period of eight days.”

Steegmans is a two-time stage winner in the Tour de France, and had hoped for a strong 2009 season. A disagreement with his Katusha team over its anti-doping policies saw him essentially forced out of the team, though.

Steegmans didn’t agree with a clause the team introduced which stated that a positive test would result in a fine five times that of the annual salary, and the net result was that he stopped racing after the Dauphiné Libéré.

Directeur sportif Dirk Demol said that he is ready to get back to racing. "He yearns for competition," he stated. “I even need sometimes to get Gert to slow down.”

Steegmans has moved to RadioShack and will make his debut in the Tour Down Under. He’ll line out alongside Lance Armstrong, who was instrumental in bringing him on board.

"We definitely wanted one sprinter in our team," said Demol. "When the name of Steegmans was mentioned, Armstrong agreed immediately. ‘This is our sprinter,’ said Lance.”

He said that Steegman’s first goal of the season would be the Classics. Then he’ll plan towards July. “If Armstrong can win the Tour, then we will build the Tour team around him.” Steegmans is likely to be in the running, but he’d likely have to sacrifice sprinting ambitions in order to help drive the pace on flatter terrain.

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