Spain's Oscar Pereiro will form part of Astana's line-up at the Tour Down Under next month. Speaking at the team's training camp in Pisa, Italy, Pereiro said that he would return to racing early in 2010 after a difficult year.
"I raced at the Tour Down Under this year and the number of people watching the race really impressed me. It's incredible, especially the opening criterium," said Pereiro, 32.
The 2006 Tour de France winner has not raced since abandoning the Tour this year due to exhaustion. He said an early start to the season would be important in order to allow him build his form before helping teammate Alberto Contador at the Tour.
"The last years few years have been hard for me, I worked really hard to return after the crash at the 2008 Tour," continued Pereiro. "I was too tired at this year's Tour, in both my mind and my body. I didn’t like cycling at that point. But after three months at home I started to think, 'Cycling is my life' and I didn’t want to leave the sport by abandoning the Tour."
Astana announced Tuesday that Pereiro would join the team. He leaves Caisse d'Epargne after four years and the Tour de France win, his last win. Before Astana and Pereiro finalised the contract, Pereiro considered retirement and talked about becoming an actor. He has postponed his decision on retirement, but still considers acting as a possible career in the future.
"When I’m on the reality shows all the people tell me that I am talented and I do well. I need at least one more year before I decide what I’ll do after I stop racing."
Pereiro leaves the Astana training camp Wednesday. While at the training camp he met all his 2010 teammates, and received his new clothing and Specialized bicycle.