World road champion Cadel Evans has left Silence-Lotto for the U.S./Swiss team BMC for 2010, according to a press release from BMC.
“A great opportunity has come for me to join a growing team of like minded individuals at BMC,” Evans said in the statement released Sunday.
“I look forward to working with the BMC group toward the same goals, including the Tour de France. I see the BMC Racing Team as a growing but very well structured and organized team.
“Obviously, I would like to do better than my two second places at the Tour de France.”
The BMC press release said Evans had signed a three-year contract. Silence-Lotto announced Saturday that Evans was opting not to renew his contract with that team, where he had been for five seasons.
At BMC Evans will join Italy’s 2008 world champion, Alessandro Ballan, and U.S. road champion George Hincapie. His arrival could boost the Continental Pro squad’s chances of being invited to the more prestigious races.
“I am very excited about being teammates with Cadel,” Hincapie told VeloNews. “Having been part of eight Tour de France-winning teams, I know what it takes to win a Tour. I hope we get the opportunity to take part in the 2010 Tour and go for No. 9.”
BMC team co-owner Jim Ochowicz said BMC will be able to compete with any team in the world in 2010.
“Cadel brings a wealth of experience in the grand tours to the team,” Ochowicz said. “Our team will have multiple chances to measure ourselves against the greatest teams in the world. We are pleased that we will have the opportunities to send out our most successful riders, now including Cadel Evans, to tackle these challenges.”
Team manager John Lelangue, who effectively gave up managing after seeing his former team leader at Phonak, Floyd Landis, test positive for doping after his 2006 Tour de France victory, said it is now BMC’s plan to race among the elite.
“We have a plan to go to the biggest races, including the grand tours. That includes the Tour de France,” he said. “This will be possible since our sporting level has greatly increased in standard.”
And what’s next for Silence?
Silence’s sporting director Marc Sergeant admitted that he had been surprised by Evans’ decision, though the Aussie has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave provided there was finanical compensation.
“Just after the Tour of Lombardy we spoke about his campaign for 2010,” said Sergeant. “We brought in Daniel Moreno to help Cadel in the mountain stages for next year’s Tour. In short we were not expecting him to leave.”
Sergeant added that he would be aiming high in seeking to replace the world road champ.
“Why not Alberto Contador?” said Sergeant. The Spanish two-time winner of the Tour de France’s future at the Astana team is uncertain.
At Silence-Lotto, Evans has finished on the Tour de France podium twice and achieved his biggest win at the world championships this year. But Evans often had the weakest team support of any major Tour de France contender.
That was particularly evident in the 2009 Tour de France, when the team finished 13th in the stage 4 team time trial, more than two and a half minutes behind stage winner Astana. —Agence France Presse contributed to this report.