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It’s official: Sastre to Cervélo

Carlos Sastre couldn’t put it off anymore. Despite his hope to ride the Vuelta a España without any unnecessary distractions, the rumor mill of where the 2008 Tour de France champion was going to land in 2009 was turning into just that. To end the growing media circus, Sastre confirmed what many already knew. After seven years racing under the tutelage of Bjarne Riis and Team CSC, Sastre will join the start-up Cervélo Test Team for 2009.

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By Andrew Hood

Tour winner Carlos Sastre will be riding for the new Cervélo Test Team in 2009.

Photo: AFP (file photo)

Carlos Sastre couldn’t put it off anymore.

Despite his hope to ride the Vuelta a España without any unnecessary distractions, the rumor mill of where the 2008 Tour de France champion was going to land in 2009 was turning into just that.

To end the growing media circus, Sastre confirmed what many already knew.

After seven years racing under the tutelage of Bjarne Riis and Team CSC, Sastre will join the start-up Cervélo Test Team for 2009.

“The time has come to speak about my future,” Sastre said in an official communiqué. “After seven unforgettable years … I am looking for that new motivation that will help me enjoy being on the bike. That is the most important reason that I have decided to join up with Cervélo Test Team.”

Sastre’s contract was up at the end of the 2008 season and there was growing speculation that the quiet Spanish climber was looking for a new team.

Officials from the new Russian outfit, Katyusha, made it no secret that it had the cash to make a lucrative offer for the Tour champ. Other teams reportedly talking with Sastre included Garmin-Chipotle and Milram.

Instead, it was the new kid on the block – the Cervélo Test Team – that earned the stamp of approval for Sastre. Reportedly joining Sastre in the move is Spanish veteran Iñigo Cuesta, another CSC-Saxo Bank rider.

Last week, Cervélo announced it would be working with equipment companies such as Speedplay, Vittoria, 3T and Zipp to create a new team with a well-financed, four-year commitment.

The team will be managed by Cycling United of Switzerland, which already manages the women’s Cervélo-Lifeforce team.

Sastre is the first big name linked to the team, but the roster will surely grow in the coming weeks.

Sastre already knew Cervélo and other team backers well since Cervélo was the bike sponsor for Team CSC since 2003.

At 33, Sastre is entering the final years of his career, but he insists money wasn’t the deciding factor.

“I decided to go with Cervélo because it’s a new project with beliefs that jell well with my way of being, because it offers to cycling an opportunity to open new frontiers and work with new sponsors,” he said. “With this project, I am taking a new road which generates a lot of motivation and new objectives for the rest of my sporting career.”

Sastre thanked CSC owner Riis and the other riders and staff at Team CSC-Saxo Bank for their support during his seven-year stint at the Danish team.

It wasn’t clear if there was some sort of fallout between Riis and Sastre or if it was simply a parting of ways.

Sastre was one of Riis’s first major signings when he took over the CSC team earlier this decade. Under Riis’s guidance, Sastre slowly developed from a gregario into a stage-race contender.

Though often overshadowed by such riders as Tyler Hamilton and Ivan Basso, Sastre quietly plugged away and delivered a Tour-winning attack on Alpe d’Huez to earn Riis’s first Tour victory as a director.

“I would have liked to have kept Carlos, but I have to respect that he has some goals that he will realize on a new team,” Riis said Friday. “Victory this year was a milestone for the team. He’s been a fantastic rider for the team and we wish him, of course, all the best. It’s not quite over yet and I hope that he can finish with another great result at the Vuelta.”