Svein Tuft to join new Australian team for 2011

Svein Tuft will leave Garmin for 2011 and join the new, still-unnamed Australian team

Prior to starting Friday’s Grand Prix de Québec, Canadian Svein Tuft told VeloNews he is pleased with his decision to leave Garmin-Transitions at the end of this season to join the Australian team vying for a ProTour berth in 2011. The team has also announced the signing of veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen from Katusha.

Pegasus Racing, which races in the U.S. as Fly-V Australia, has reportedly secured funding of $13 million to help its current application for a UCI ProTour license. But should that bid fail, it will likely race as a Pro Continental squad next year, similar to BMC Racing and Cervélo TestTeam this year.

Tuft, 33, said he saw his move as “a great opportunity, whether or not the team gets ProTour status. I’m happy just to be racing my bike. And I feel I’m at the level I want to be.”

For Garmin, Tuft had an excellent August, winning a stage of the Tour of Denmark, where he finished second overall, and taking the prologue of the Eneco Tour, a ProTour race that saw him end up in fifth overall.

“It’s a whole other world in Europe,” added Tuft, who has spent most of his decade as a pro racing for domestic teams Mercury, Prime Alliance and Symmetrics before joining Garmin last year. “I feel that a long year over there has helped me grow stronger. You can only get better, and I think that I am still improving. Once I don’t feel that way, I’ll stop racing.”

Tuft said that since returning home to British Columbia last month he has been taking long training rides on his time trial bike in preparation for the world championships starting later this month in Geelong, Australia. Tuft was second in the TT worlds two years ago and is again targeting the podium.

“I’m going to Australia early to get acclimatized,” Tuft said. “I haven’t studied the course; I don’t like doing that. I prefer being there and riding it myself.”

He’s no stranger to Australia, having finished fourth in last year’s Herald Sun Tour, which takes place in the state of Victoria, where this year’s worlds are being held. And doing well there again is sure to please his new team.