Marc de Maar has signed a contract with Quick Step for 2011, ending his one-year stint in America with the UnitedHealthcare team.
The 26-year-old Dutchman had been on Patrick Lefevere’s radar since the Amgen Tour of California in May. A string of impressive performances in the US had sparked attention from a number of other teams but it was Lefevere’s persistence, coupled with the promise of a programme of high calibre races that attracted de Maar to the Belgian team.
“We had a meeting last Thursday but I officially signed the contract today,” he told Cyclingnews.
“I wanted to go back to Europe and I was waiting for answer from UnitedHealthcare. They have plans to go to Europe but it wasn’t sure what races they would do and I wanted to go back to the highest level.”
De Maar spent six years with the Rabobank team, four of which at ProTour level, but moved to the US after two injury-plagued seasons. He regained full fitness and brought home some impressive results, including the Mount Hood Classic and stages in Cascade and the Tour de Beauce.
Next year De Maar will be back on the European ProTour circuit, racing in week-long stage races like the Tour of Romandie and the hillier Classics.
“The programme was more important than the contract if I’m to honest. I’d love to do a big Tour again but I need some decent results first.”
De Maar still has a full race schedule in the US for the remainder of the season and will take part in both the Tour of Utah and the Tour of China before moving to either Italy or Spain later in the year.
“UnitedHealthcare had faith in me. They sent me to the Tour of California without any results and it was a real battle but because I only just took the final spot on the team. My good results all started from that race. The team always had faith in me.”