Irish climber returns to WorldTour after fine 2013 season
Philip Deignan has signed for Team Sky for the 2014 season. The Irishman returns to WorldTour level after a successful campaign at UnitedHealthcare and adds to the arsenal of climbing talent in the Sky roster.
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity to race for the biggest team in the world and to be able to ride for some of the best riders in the world. It’s going to be a big challenge but I’m really looking forward to it,” Deignan said.
A professional since 2005, Deignan’s greatest success came in 2009 in the colours of Cervélo TestTeam, when he finished 9th overall at the Vuelta a España and claimed a fine stage victory in Avila, becoming the first Irishman in seventeen years to win a stage in a grand tour.
After illness blighted his 2010 campaign, Deignan moved on to RadioShack in 2011 following the disbandment of Cervélo, and then to UnitedHealthcare the following year. The 29-year-old recovered his best form this season, winning the Tour of the Gila and recording an impressive string of results on the America Tour, including 9th at the Tour of California, 6th at the Tour of Utah and 10th at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
“I spent a few years in the WorldTour before moving over to America for two great seasons racing with UnitedHealthcare, who I really must thank for such great support both on and off the bike over the past two seasons,” Deignan said. “I now feel like I’m at the level where I can race in the WorldTour in Europe so when I got the opportunity to head back there with Team Sky it was hard to resist.”
The Donegal native will line up at the Tour of Britain next week for UnitedHealthcare and should also feature alongside Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche in the Irish team at the world championships in Florence, but he is already looking ahead to life at Team Sky.
“It’s a fantastic team where nothing is left to chance with the coaching and the diet – which will really suit the type of rider that I am. Team Sky will offer me the kind of environment I need to be in to help me perform to the best of my ability,” said Deignan.
Sky manager Dave Brailsford hailed the arrival of Deignan, highlighting that he adds further depth to Sky’s pool of climbing talent. Sky had first shown interest in signing Deignan ahead of its debut season in the professional peloton in 2010, but he signed a contract extension with Cervélo TestTeam.
“We’re well aware of what he is capable of on a bike. He’s a climber of real quality and he will certainly strengthen our squad even further in stage race competition,” Brailsford said. “He brings experience to the team and we believe he belongs at this level. It’s great to finally have an Irish rider on our roster and I’m certain that under our coaches and performance staff there is a lot more to come from Philip.”
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