Xavier Tondo finds ride with Movistar as Cervélo TestTeam exodus begins

The Cervelo TestTeam exodus begins as Xavier Tondo signs with the Spanish squad now known as Caisse d'Epargne. Thor Hushovd says he's talking to several teams.

Tondo won stage 3 of the 2010 Tour of Catalonia

Xavier Tondo is the first rider to confirm his future following the news last week that Cervélo TestTeam will be folding at the end of 2010.

Tondo, 31, will join Movistar (currently known as Caisse d’Epargne) for next season, the team confirmed Sunday. The Spanish climber joined Cervélo this year and won stages at Paris-Nice and Volta a Catalunya, results that helped score him a job next year.

Riders and staff are scrambling to find new jobs in the wake of the surprise decision by the Canadian bike company to close down its men’s professional team and join forces with Garmin-Transitions for 2011. The team will be called Garmin-Cervélo next season and Cervélo will also be the team’s bike sponsor.

Several top riders have been linked to a move to Garmin, including classics specialists Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler, Roger Hammond, Andreas Klier and Jeremy Hunt.

Garmin-Transitions manager Jonathan Vaughters has already confirmed the team is looking to bolster its classics lineup. Cervélo officials also told VeloNews that “several” riders will join Garmin, but refused to elaborate on which ones.

What’s sure is that the majority of riders and staff are now scrambling to find new contracts for next season.

There was shock and disbelief among the ranks when Cervélo told riders and staff last Wednesday the team would be ending. Most believed the project would be continuing for at least several more seasons and are now finding themselves without jobs late into the season.

Hushovd, a two-time winner of the green jersey, said he’s not worried about his immediate future.

“I should be able to find a new team. I hope to have something finalized in the coming days,” he told VeloNews. Hushovd said he is talking to “several teams” and expects to make an announcement “soon.”

Cervélo’s riders should find an ample marketplace to try to secure contracts. New money has moved into the Spanish teams Geox and Movistar, both of which will have deeper pockets to sign riders.

New teams, such as the Schleck/Luxembourg team and an Australian effort, are just getting off the ground and will be looking to fill out its rosters.

Even before the news broke, 2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre had penned a deal with Geox (currently known as Footon-Servetto). Sastre said Cervélo did not offer him a contract extension for 2011, perhaps the first signal that things were not going well for the second-year team.

Several young riders or racers coming off injuries could find it more difficult to find a top team. Mechanics, drivers, masseurs and sport directors will also find it challenging to secure employment for the coming season.

(Related: A list of recent confirmed ProTour transfers, extensions and retirements)