McEwen and Hunter complete move to Team RadioShack
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

McEwen and Hunter complete move to Team RadioShack

by Shane Stokes at 5:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Sprinters leave Pegasus Sports team after Pro Continental licence refusal

Robbie McEwenTour de France stage winners Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter have been confirmed as moving to Team RadioShack for 2011, completing a last-minute deal to switch to the US ProTeam squad. The namesakes had been due to race with the Pegasus Sports team but were left in a difficult position when that squad failed in its bid to secure a Pro Continental licence from the UCI.

McEwen is a twelve time stage winner in the Tour de France and a three-time victor of the Green Jersey classification. Hunter took a stage win in the 2007 editon of the race and, together, they add an important sprinting dimension to the team which was left short after the departures of Daryl Impey and Gert Steegmans.

“It is a relief that I have secured a contract with Team RadioShack,” said 38 year old McEwen, speaking four days after he learned that Pegasus Sports would not be given a Pro Continental licence. “[It is] obviously one of the best teams in the world where I can ride at the ProTour level in what I’m planning to be my last year as a professional. When it became obvious that I had to look for another team, Team RadioShack really was my first choice. That’s why I contacted Lance. Afterwards Johan Bruyneel offered me the environment I was looking for.

“I am happy and grateful. I still know and believe that I am one of the fastest sprinters in the world. The young guys like Cavendish, Farrar or Greipel are tough to beat but I know that I am still amongst that group of elite sprinters. I still have a lot to offer. I just don’t want to ride one more year just to ride along in the bunch. I want to perform well and go away on a high.”

McEwen’s move was expected, both because the US team said that it was considering him and also because of a direct message mistakenly sent out as a public tweet several days ago. He was already motivated to do well in the early season races, and has this evening been confirmed as forming part of the RadioShack squad for the Cancer Council Classic and the Santos Tour Down Under.

“I wanted to get in shape for the Tour Down Under but I also want to perform well in the whole season, whether it is for Down Under, the Giro, the Tour or wherever and with a big goal: the World Championships in Copenhagen,” he said, mentioning a platform where he could really go out with a bang.

South African rider Hunter competed this season with the Garmin-Transitions team and was also preparing for what would have been his first year with the Pegasus team. The 33 year old spoke of his relief at finding a slot, assuaging fears that he would be left without a big squad.

Robbie Hunter“I am happy to have found a team so soon after the collapse of the Pegasus Sports project. The Australians really had a nice project. I was looking forward to being part of their team, but for me it was not an option to race on a continental team. I am still too ambitious.

“Team RadioShack suits me very well. As the team didn’t have many sprinters I will have my place over there. The team directors know exactly what I am worth in a team. I’ve proved in the past that I have no problem sacrificing my chances for another rider, as I did last year for Tylar Farrar. Also in 2011 the team can count on me and I know that they will give me the opportunity to do my own sprints too.”

Aside from his stage win in the 2007 Tour, he has taken more than 40 victories in his career. These include two stages Vuelta a Espana, sprint victories in Tour de Georgia as well as the overall classification of the Tour of Qatar. “Every year I win my races. I will continue winning. I will be ready for the stage races and the Classics. I like the spirit of Team RadioShack and I know a lot of the guys, especially Gregory Rast as he is my regular training mate.”

General manager Johan Bruyneel felt that they will slot in and fill a gap on the team. “The two Robbie’s fit perfectly in our group, which is a mixture of experienced and young riders,” he explained. “I feel sad for the riders and staff of the Pegasus project, but most of the riders deserve to race at the highest level of professional cycling. I am happy to have been able to offer two of the guys that opportunity. Moreover, we can really use both riders; they are real finishers and winners. They are both very fast and don’t need a real sprinter’s train to bring them to the last kilometre. They are ‘self-sufficient’ and will also be a wealth of knowledge for our young riders.”

Following the news that the Pegasus Sports team was in trouble vis-à-vis its licence ambitions, Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong and others began speaking and worked out how the two could come on board. “We were interested in both riders and they were interested in racing for our team. It still took some days to finalize the agreements as our budget for 2011 was almost closed,” he said. “We had to redo our homework and we will have to economize on some other aspects but it will be worth it.

“Robbie McEwen is not the youngest guy in the peloton, but in our team we know exactly what riders are capable of at a certain age. Robbie proved this year that he is still able to win ProTour races. Moreover, I count on him to help our very young, talented riders in the team find their way in the peloton. As far as Robbie Hunter is concerned, we welcome him in the team a year later than planned as we had we wanted him for Team RadioShack at the end of 2009. Finally our patience paid off.”

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Team RadioShack for 2011:

Lance Armstrong (USA), Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan), Sam Bewley (New Zealand), Jani Brajkovic (Slovenia), Matthew Busche (USA), Manuel Cardoso (Portugal), Philip Deignan (Ireland), Ben Hermans (Belgium), Chris Horner (USA), Robbie Hunter (South Africia), Markel Irizar (Spain), Ben King (USA), Andreas Klöden (Germany), Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Geoffroy Lequatre (France), Tiago Machado (Portugal), Jason McCartney (USA), Robbie McEwen (Australia), Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan), Nélson Oliveira (Portugal), Sérgio Paulinho (Portugal), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine), Gregory Rast (Switzerland), Sébastien Rosseler (Belgium), Ivan Rovny (Russia), Jesse Sergent (New Zealand, Bjørn Selander (USA) and Haimar Zubeldia (Spain).

Directors: Johan Bruyneel (Belgium), José Azevedo (Portugal), Dirk Demol (Belgium), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) and Alain Gallopin (France).


Lineup for Cancer Council Classic / Adelaide (Aus), 16/01/11:

Riders: Lance Armstrong, Manuel Cardoso, Ben Hermans, Markel Irizar, Robbie McEwen, Gregory Rast & Sébastien Rosseler

Directors: José Azevedo & Dirk Demol

Santos Tour Down Under (Aus), 18-23/01/11:

Riders: Lance Armstrong, Manuel Cardoso, Ben Hermans, Markel Irizar, Robbie McEwen, Gregory Rast & Sébastien Rosseler

Directors: José Azevedo & Dirk Demol

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