Sprinters Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter are joining Team RadioShack in 2011. Both riders were part of the Pegasus Sports project which failed to get a ProTour or Professional Continental license for the upcoming season and opted to change teams. The negotiations between the Team and riders were settled promptly with both riders keen on joining the team of Manager Johan Bruyneel and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Australian Robbie McEwen is a triple winner of the Tour de France’s green jersey sprinters classification. Robbie Hunter became the first South African to compete in the Tour de France. Later he was the first South African rider to win a stage in the Tour.
The two Robbies fit perfectly in our group, which is a mixture of experienced and young riders, explained Johan Bruyneel. I feel sad for the riders and staff of the Pegasus project, but most of the riders deserve to race at the highest level of professional cycling. I am happy to have been able to offer two of the guys that opportunity. Moreover, we can really use both riders; they are real finishers and winners. They are both very fast and dont need a real sprinters train to bring them to the last kilometer. They are self-sufficient and will also be a wealth of knowledge for our young riders.
We were interested in both riders and they were interested in racing for our team. It still took some days to finalize the agreements as our budget for 2011 was almost closed. We had to redo our homework and we will have to economize on some other aspects but it will be worth it, continued Bruyneel. Robbie McEwen is not the youngest guy in the peloton, but in our team we know exactly what riders are capable of at a certain age. Robbie proved this year that he is still able to win ProTour races. Moreover, I count on him to help our very young, talented riders in the team find their way in the peloton. As far as Robbie Hunter is concerned, we welcome him in the Team a year later than planned as we had we wanted him for Team RadioShack at the end of 2009. Finally our patience paid off.
Robbie McEwen (38) reacted with delight from the Gold Coast in Australia: It is a relief that I have secured a contract with Team RadioShack, obviously one of the best teams in the world where I can ride at the ProTour level in what Im planning to be my last year as a professional. When it became obvious that I had to look for another team, Team RadioShack really was my first choice. Thats why I contacted Lance. Afterwards Johan Bruyneel offered me the environment I was looking for. I am happy and grateful. I still know and believe that I am one of the fastest sprinters in the world. The young guys like Cavendish, Farrar or Greipel are tough to beat but I know that I am still amongst that group of elite sprinters. I still have a lot to offer. I just dont want to ride one more year just to ride along in the bunch. I want to perform well and go away on a high.
McEwen has twelve stage wins in the Tour the France, another twelve in the Tour of Italy, plus five wins in Paris-Brussels. Even through the last weeks of uncertainty he has been training hard. I wanted to get in shape for the Tour Down Under but I also want to perform well in the whole season, whether it is for Down Under, the Giro, the Tour or wherever and with a big goal: the World Championships in Copenhagen.
South African Robbie Hunter (33) was as delighted: I am happy to have found a team so soon after the collapse of the Pegasus Sports project. The Australians really had a nice project. I was looking forward to being part of their Team, but for me it was not an option to race on a continental team. I am still too ambitious. Team RadioShack suits me very well. As the Team didnt have many sprinters I will have my place over there. The Team Directors know exactly what I am worth in a team. Ive proved in the past that I have no problem sacrificing my chances for another rider, as I did last year for Tylar Farrar. Also in 2011 the Team can count on me and I know that they will give me the opportunity to do my own sprints too.
Hunter has won more than 40 races in his professional career, including stages in the Tour the France, Tour of Spain and Tour de Georgia as well as the Overall Classification of the Tour of Qatar. Every year I win my races. I will continue winning. I will be ready for the stage races and the classics. I like the spirit of Team RadioShack and I know a lot of the guys, especially Gregory Rast as he is my regular training mate.