Paulinho follows Armstrong to RadioShack; Azevedo new DS
By Andrew Hood
Time waits for no one, especially in silly season when contracts are up for grabs and riders are scrambling to secure jobs.
That appears to be the case with Portuguese rider Sergio Paulinho, who was supposedly Alberto Contador’s right-hand man at Astana during July’s tumultuous and divided Tour de France.
According to reports from the Portuguese wire service Lusa, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist accepted a two-year contract offer to join Lance Armstrong’s new RadioShack team and is not taking the risk of waiting around to see what happens with Contador, whose future remains unsettled.
Contador has one year remaining on his contract with Astana and still hasn’t announced if he’s going to try to get out of the contract to accept an offer from another team or stick with the Kazakhs.
Most expected Paulinho to stay with Contador, along with his other trusted domestique, Benjamin Noval. The 29-year-old Portuguese rider rode in support of Contador during the 2007 and 2009 Tour victories.
Paulinho, however, decided to secure his immediate future and has accepted a two-year deal to ride with RadioShack for the 2010-11 seasons, reports said.
RadioShack has also contracted former pro José Azevedo to act as a sport director, Lusa also reported.
“It’s true. I have an offer and I’ve accepted,” Azevedo said. “All the details need to be worked out, but it’s confirmed. I am looking forward to working with Armstrong again. We always got along and this is an opportunity to do something I’ve always dreamed of.”
Azevedo ended his successful career in 2008 with the Portuguese team Benfica. He raced for several Portuguese teams before joining ONCE in 2001, where he rode to fifth in the 2001 Giro d’Italia and sixth in the 2002 Tour de France.
He joined Discovery Channel in 2004 and rode for two years in support of Armstrong during the final two of his seven consecutive Tour wins. His last race was the 2008 Tour of Portugal.