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Dominique Cornu (Skil-Shimano).
Belgian caught by surprise, confident he will secure new squad
Former Under 23 time trial world champion Dominique Cornu will part ways with Skil-Shimano at the end of this year after the team announced on Thursday that it would not extend the Belgian rider's one-year contract.
The Belgian told Cyclingnews that he has commenced the search for a new team after being surprised when his Dutch squad would not make an offer for next year.
"It was unexpected. I had been talking to them and they came back with this news," Cornu said on Thursday morning.
Cornu joined the team from Quick Step at the start of 2010 and won the opening time trial of the Tour of Belgium in May, finishing second overall in that race. Despite his contribution to the team's total of 12 wins this year, Skil-Shimano cited performance factors its statement, which read, "The team is not confident enough that Cornu will make the expected sporting progress in its ranks next season."
Cornu admitted he was disappointed with how things had worked out with the team, but that he too had held concerns over his race programme for next season after the Pro Continental squad had been overlooked for a number of bigger races.
"It hasn't worked out like we wanted. It was definitely not bad, but there were things that could be better," he said. "For me it was important that I could do bigger races, and we'd been hoping all year that we could do a big tour or some of the other big week-long races. But most of the time we didn't get the invitations; I was not happy about that, but neither was the team."
While Skil-Shimano's announcement comes late in the year, Cornu doesn't expect it to stall the progress of his six-year professional career. He indicated that he is close to securing a deal for the coming season and is hopeful he will have the opportunity to add another Grand Tour following his maiden Vuelta a España with Silence-Lotto in 2008.
"I hope to be able to announce something soon, but I can't discuss it at this stage," said the 25-year-old. "The important thing for me is to do stage races with a time trial and a few hard stages. Obviously, if it's possible, another big tour."
Cornu's immediate focus will remain focussed on his road career, but as one of Belgium's top individual pursuit riders he said it is too early to exclude the possibility of an appearance on the track at the London Olympics.
"London was a goal for me but when they decided to remove some of the events from the schedule that was a big disappointment. We still have the team pursuit and the omnium. The Olympics are not too far away, two years, but it's too hard to say that I'm going, that I want to go or that I definitely won't. We will see after the season next year and the [track] worlds."