Luke Roberts returns to Saxo Bank SunGard, Polish rider Rafal Majka also signed up
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Luke Roberts returns to Saxo Bank SunGard, Polish rider Rafal Majka also signed up

by Conal Andrews at 7:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Two new addition for Riis’ team

Luke RobertsRiders from the ill-fated Pegasus Sports project are continuing to pick up teams for 2011, with Luke Roberts being the latest confirmed as finding a new squad for the season.

Roberts and the other riders were left high and dry when the Australian would-be ProTeam squad was unsuccessful in its application and then subsequently lost out on Pro Continental and Continental licences due to financial issues.

The 34 year old was worried about what it could mean for his career, but fortunately he has been able to return to the team where he raced between 2005 and 2007.

The Australian rider is relieved at the news. “I'm extremely grateful that Bjarne Riis has offered me this opportunity, and I really want to repay the trust the team has shown me in a difficult situation,” he said. “Bjarne was the first team owner offering me the opportunity to ride on the Pro Tour back in 2005, and I have learnt a lot from the way he approaches things and runs the team. In my opinion it is one of the most professional teams in the world. So it's an honor for me to be back.”

Roberts has had a solid career, winning Olympic gold and a world title in the team time trial in 2004, and also netting silver in the 2003 individual pursuit. He finished third overall in the Tour of Britain in his final year with CSC, as well as picking up sixth overall in the Tour Down Under.

He competed with Team Kuota in 2008 and 2009 and won a stage in the Giro del Capo, then moved to Team Milram last year and began racing once more at a higher standard. Roberts’ return to good form earned him a stage win in the Tour of Murcia, fifth on stage 15 of the Tour de France and fifth overall in the Santos Tour Down Under, the first ProTour event of the season. He was also second on a stage there.

Performances such as that convince him that he has more to give to Saxo Bank – SunGard. “I think I bring a lot to the team. I can make an impact in the Classics, be a leader in smaller races and a hardworking domestic in Grand Tours. Last year I rode both the Giro and the Tour de France for Milram,” he explained.

Riis describes him as a ‘real pro, strong and experienced,’ and also as a rider that can be relied upon in all sorts of races.

He’s also giving an opportunity to the Polish talent Rafal Majka. The 21 year old is moving from the Italian U/23 outfit Trevigiani Bottoli and had a chance to show the team what he could do when he joined them at the recent training camp in Mallorca. “He made a strong impression [there] and convinced me that he is a huge talent,” said Riis. “He is young, a strong all rounder and a skilled climber, so this was an offer that was hard to refuse. My hope is to build him into a stage race rider.”

Majka describes Alberto Contador as his ‘idol’ and said that he is very pleased at the chance to compete alongside him as part of the team.

The racing schedules for the two riders have not yet been communicated, but it’s likely both will compete soon.

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