The still-unnamed Luxembourg team saved the best for last, announcing Tuesday its debut 2011 roster is officially closed with the arrival of Swiss star Fabian Cancellara.
The Olympic time trial champion and classics specialist said he turned down offers from other teams after breaking the final year of his contract with Bjarne Riis at Saxo Bank because he wanted to join the Schleck brothers on the new, Luxembourg-backed team next season.
“I had many interesting options, but in the end I knew that the project in Luxembourg would have all the ingredients I would need to continue improving myself without skipping a beat,” Cancellara said in a team release. “It is a unique mix of familiar personalities with new surroundings, which will ensure continuity while instilling a new motivation to make this project the most successful in cycling.”
Cancellara signs on with a three-year contract and joins several ex-Saxo Bank riders following the Schleck brothers in their high-profile exodus from their longtime home with Riis. Also leaving the Danish outfit are Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt, Domenic Klemme, Anders Lund and Jakob Fuglsang.
Team manager Brian Nygaard said Cancellara’s arrival is one of the most important additions for the new team.
“We entered into this project with the objective to become one of the best teams in the sport. Obviously signing a rider like Cancellara, we have added one of the most significant athletes and personalities in professional cycling as such,” Nygaard said. “He brings an amazing amount of depth and quality to the project and we’re extremely proud to have him onboard.”
With the arrival of Cancellara, the team closes its roster with 25 riders for its inaugural season. The new team will meet next month in Switzerland for its first official get-together.
“We have said many times that we were looking to sign riders who would be compatible with the core ideas of this team. I think our humble but ambitious approach has attracted a lot of great personalities,” Nygaard continued. “Reading over the list of riders and staff we have signed gives us the confidence to believe that we have succeeded in that initial goal. The proof is of course making it happen on the road and we will not go into the season thinking we have already won races. We are confident but keeping our feet on the ground, knowing that the hard part starts now.”