Robert Hunter is one of the most experienced riders on the roster of the new Pegasus Racing Team. And as the team awaits news on its 2011 ProTour licence application, the 33-year-old South Africa sprinter hopes a change of teams will mean more opportunities to ride for himself next season.
Hunter was under contract with the Garmin-Transitions team for the 2011 season but when the block of Cervélo riders moved to Garmin, he used a buyout clause to move to the Australian team.
“When I heard the news I started looking around as I realised there was no more space for me at Garmin,” Hunter told Cyclingnews in Taipei, where he was due to ride the Taiwan Cup that was eventually cancelled due to Typhoon Megi.
“When I signed with Garmin for 2010 and 2011, it was made clear that I’d have space to racing for myself, even in the Grand Tours,” he said. “But Tyler Farrar developed more as a rider and wherever he was racing we had to work for him. Any other plan was out of question, even when he was injured like after his crash at the Tour de France.
"I don’t mind working for other people as long as I get paid for the job I do. I started off the season really good by making the top ten at the Tour Down Under [he was ninth overall] and winning two stages at the Vuelta a Murcia. Then I picked up an injury but I came good again for the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de France.
“I would have stayed with Garmin but with the sprinters coming with Cervélo, I wasn’t sure my chances and I wanted a long term project. I don’t want to keep changing teams.”
Hunter started his career with Lampre in 1999. He joined Mapei in 2002, rode for Rabobank in 2003 and 2004, for Phonak in 2005 and 2006, and for Barloworld from 2007 to 2009.
“I want to race for at least another four years and stay with the same team”, he said. “Pegasus has a nice long term project. I want to help the team move forward and race for myself. Now we’re waiting for the ProTour license decision but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen for 2011. I always want to ride the Tour de France but if I have to skip it next year because we’re building a good project for the future, I’m ok with it.”
“We want to have a really good pre-season. Directeur sportif Henrik Redant and Robbie McEwen will make it easier for the team to get invitations if needed. We want to do as many ASO races as possible.”