At the end of his strongest season to date, Letterkenny cyclist Philip Deignan has signed a new deal with the Cervélo Test Team that will see him remain with them for the next two seasons.
Deignan had one year to run on his existing contract, but his impressive performances throughout 2009 have led to the team replace his current arrangement with a better offer. He'll now compete with the Swiss-registered squad until the end of 2011, remaining alongside the 2008 Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre.
Last month, Deignan won a stage of the Vuelta a España as he beat top Czech rider Roman Kreuziger into Avila. Deignan, 26, went on to finish ninth overall in the Grand Tour. It was the best Irish performance in a three-week race since Stephen Roche won a stage in the 1992 Tour de France, and placed ninth overall in the 1993 Giro d'Italia.
"This year was a big step up for me," Deignan said on Friday. "After the last few years were hampered by illness and injury, it's really nice to know the ability is still there. I have taken a lot of confidence from my results this year, particularly my stage win near the end of the Vuelta. That really showed my body is adapting to the stresses of a three week Tour, and that I can compete with the best.
"I am very happy to commit to Cervélo for another two years. They really showed a lot of faith in me by signing me last year, and I'm happy I was able to repay that faith by getting them some good results this season. The support they gave me all year was great, particularly in the Vuelta, where everyone worked tirelessly to help me secure ninth overall. Hopefully the next two years can be as good, if not better, than this year."
Deignan has long been regarded as a promising rider and delivered on that in 2009. He showed strong form earlier this year, netting fifth on a mountain stage and seventh overall in the Vuelta a Castilla y León. He was also eighth in the Giro del Mendrisiotto, tenth in the Vuelta a Burgos and eleventh in the Tour de Langkawi.
Prior to the Vuelta, he showed his form was building when he was fourth on a stage and twelfth overall in the Tour of Ireland.
Andrew McQuaid of Azzurri Sports Management, who act as his agent, said that his subsequent strong performance in Spain led to several approaches. "There was a lot of interest from other teams in Philip this year, particularly after his impressive Vuelta," he said. "Ultimately, we decided that remaining in Cervélo was the best option for him. That's where we felt Philip would be able to achieve the best results over the next couple of years.
"They have a really good set up, good staff, and good team environment which suits him. Now that they know Philip's capabilities, they are really going to look after him and do their best to provide him with opportunities for many more results. In addition to that, Philip knows he has a lot more to learn from riders like former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre, including how to perform with the best in three-week Tours. It is becoming clear he is best suited to those races."
Deignan's goals for 2010 will include a start in his first Tour de France.
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