New world champion Thor Hushovd has admitted Saturday's Tour of Lombardy will be an emotional end to the season. He will proudly ride the last major classic of the season in his new rainbow jersey, but the Italian race will also be the last ever for his Cervélo TestTeam.
Hushovd and many of his teammates will be part of the Garmin-Cervélo team in 2011, but the distinctive black and white jerseys with the large Cervélo é will be worn for the last time.
"I'm proud to be racing but I think it'll be a really sad day for the Cervélo team," Hushovd said.
"It's a pity because it is such a nice team and everything around it was based on some really good ideas. But that's business and that's sports. Sometimes there is an end but this one came a little too fast."
Despite reports in the Belgian press that Hushovd may be back on the market after winning the world title, he reiterated that he will ride for the Garmin-Cervélo team in 2011.
He has already signed a contract and is due to meet with Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters tonight in a restaurant in Milan to talk about a possible extension to his contract beyond 2011.
"I've signed with Garmin and so I have a contract with them for 2011. I'm going to have dinner tonight to talk about he the future. That's it," he said, admitting he will drink one glass of wine if Vaughters picks an expensive vintage.
Hushovd will have number 77 on his bike and rainbow jersey for the Tour of Lombardy, just as he did at the Gran Piemonte on Thursday and just as he did at the world in Australia, when he won the world title.
He had hoped to be on holiday by now after a long season, but explains he wanted to honour the rainbow jersey and give the Cervélo TestTeam a fitting farewell.
"I'm very proud to wear the rainbow jersey and I was proud I won the race, that's why I'm happy to show the jersey for Cervélo TestTeam in the last race," he said.
"It's out of respect of the rainbow jersey so that I don’t just win, stand on the podium in Geelong and then disappear for three or four months. It's also good to do it in Italy because they have a lot of history for the rainbow jersey and they're crazy about it."
Hushovd has become one of the leaders of the peloton by winning the world title. His rainbow jersey is hugely symbolic and automatically demands respect. Yet he revealed that he has not been consulted about the planned protest before the start of the Tour of Lombardy.
He is angry with Ettore Torri's broad accusations that doping is rife in the sport but was equally perplexed that the had not been contact about the possible protest.
"I can't agree with what this Torri guy said, he talked about something he doesn't know about. But I can't agree with a protest if it’s not my idea and if I haven't been asked if I agree with it," he said.
"I think that if you want to do something you have to be serious. I don’t know what is going to happen before the start. I need to know more. We'll see what happens."
There will be live coverage of the Tour of Lombardy here on Cyclingnews with a gallery of photographs, a full report and interviews after the race.