Carlos Barredo is leaving his "second family" at Quick Step, as he moves on to Rabobank for the coming season. But the farewell is not easy, as "A piece of Team Quick Step will forever be in my heart..."
In an open letter to his fans, published on biciciclismo.com, the 29-year-old Spaniard said that his four years with the Belgian team have been "rich in satisfaction, both on a professional level as well as a human one."
In that time, he has attained "some of the most important successes of my career" - a stage at Paris-Nice in 2008, 10th overall in the Vuelta a España in 2007, and a stage in this year's Vuelta.
"The icing on the cake was surely my victory at the Clasica San Sebastian last year. I have some great memories. We were the strongest team, everyone gave 100 percent that day, as they always have in all our years together."
Barredo won the mountaintop finish at the legendary Lagos de Covadonga on the Vuelta's 15th stage, climbing out of the mist to win by over a minute ahead of his closest chaser. He had been part of a six-man escape group which had a lead of seven minutes at the foot of the mountain.
The personal aspects of the team were also important to Barredo. "Here I've always felt at home. I was supported and valued like I had always dreamt of. I worked with a staff of great professionals and raced side by side with some fantastic athletes. We nurtured a friendship and deep mutual respect that which will never fade in time, not even next year when I will be racing wearing a different jersey."
Barredo turned pro in 2004 with Liberty Seguros, before joining Quick Step in 2007. He has also won stages in the Tour Down Under and the Vuelta a Asturias.
He made headlines in this year's Tour de France when he tried to hit Caisse d'Epargne's Rui Costa with a front wheel immediately after the sixth stage. The brawl developed into a fist fight before the two were separated by journalists and team staff. Barredo was said to be upset after Costa touched handlebars with him in the final kilometres of the stage. Both were fined and Barredo later apologised.