By Gregor Brown in Nantes, France
Italy's star rider Filippo Pozzato faces a team search by season-end as Team Liquigas restructures with Ivan Basso. The 26 year-old Pozzato, who has two career Tour de France stage wins and won the 2006 Milano-Sanremo, is rumoured to be CSC-Saxo Bank or Tinkoff Credit Systems-bound despite a high asking price.
"We have not renewed with Pozzato and I believe he will change teams for the next year based on technical and economic reasons," Liquigas team manager Roberto Amadio told Cyclingnews.
Pozzato joined the team in 2007 from Quick Step. During his stay with the Italian outfit he has brought in a number of wins, such as the 2007 Omloop Het Volk. Amadio emphasised that Liquigas and Pozzato have a strong relationship despite his likely departure, which shows in its commitment to the rider at the Tour de France.
"We are racing for him and there are no doubts about that," he said.
Pozzato isn't the only big name linked to Tinkoff Credit Systems for 2009, with Belgium's Gert Steegmans confirming he will leave Quick Step for the squad next year. CSC-Saxo Bank Team Manager Bjarne Riis refuted he had signed Pozzato.
"If I had an unlimited budget I would take him," stated the Dane.
There is a chance that budget will be found within the acid-green team to keep Pozzato. If the rider wins a stage at the Tour de France then owner Paolo Del Lago could be convinced to dig deeper into his pockets.
Pozzato is concentrated on giving Del Lago a win before the race reaches Paris on July 27. "It is important to concentrate on the Tour now and give my best to Liquigas through the end of the year - it is important to be sincere," 'Pippo' told Cyclingnews.
Pozzato feels good within the Italy-based team, and added that he would like to stay with it, despite lucrative contacts from other teams.
"Yes," he responded when asked if he had been contacted by CSC-Saxo Bank or Tinkoff Credit Systems. "Definitely, there are some good offers, but I have always said that here I feel good. Now, I am thinking of racing and then I will think of contracts."