Irishman looking to rejoin sport's top tier
After two seasons with the US-based UnitedHealthcare Pro Continental team, former Irish Olympian and 2009 Vuelta a Espana stage winner Phil Deignan is likely headed back to the WorldTour next year.
"I'm currently in talks with a WorldTour team, so it's looking quite good that I'll be back there, yeah," Deignan told Cyclingnews on Saturday before stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge, although he wouldn't reveal which team he had been talking with. "I don't want to announce anything yet. I'll leave it up to the team when they want to decide to announce it, but obviously I'm very excited about it and looking forward to it."
Although unconfirmed, at least one cycling website has Deignan listed on Sky Pro Cycling's 2014 roster.
Deignan, 29, turned pro in 2005 with AG2R Prevoyance and spent four seasons with the French squad before signing a two-year deal with the Cervelo Test Team for 2009 and 2010. He moved to RadioShack in 2011 and then UnitedHealthcare in 2012.
Deignan has ridden six Grand Tours in his career and counts stage wins at the Vuelta and the Tour du Doubs among his palmares. At the Vuelta, he outgunned Liquigas rider Roman Krueziger in a two-up sprint for the win. Deignan has had to overcome several bouts with illness and injury in his career, but so far this season he has finished second overall at the Tour de Beauce and took the overall win at Silver City's Tour of the Gila in May.
"It's been a pretty turbulent two years," Deignan said. "I've had a great time here at UnitedHealthcare. They've been really good and understanding, and I've really enjoyed my time here. Every bike rider has their ups and downs, and they're used to confronting problems. I'm pretty used to it now at this stage. But I'm looking forward now and concentrating on the future and not looking back at things that have happened in the past."
One of the things Deignan is looking forward to is having a shot at being on a Giro d'Italia team for the 2014 race that will start in Ireland next May.
"It's going to be a huge thing for me with two days in Belfast and one day in Dublin," he said. "So that would be great to be able to ride that. But obviously, the whole role changes within the team when you go to the WorldTour. It's back to domestic duties, back to working again for the big guns. So I'll be happy to fill that role as well."