Team CSC-Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis has spoken out following the announcement both team director Scott Sunderland and star rider Carlos Sastre would defect to the newly formed Cervelo TestTeam in 2009. Despite the double blow to his squad, Riis has remained upbeat and thanked both team members for their long association with his squad.
"Of course I would have liked to keep Carlos on the team, but I respect his decision to reach for new goals with a new team," Riis said. "His victory this year was a mile-stone for us and the greatest possible result of our work together. He's been a fantastic rider to have on the team and we wish him all the success and happiness in the world.
"And after all it's not entirely over yet - I'm hoping he'll be able to finish off this season with a great result in the Vuelta," added Riis.
Riis said he respects Sunderland's decision, and thanked the Australian for his time with the Danish squad.
"First of all, we respect Scott's decision," said Riis. "He's been a great, great team director for us. He's been a part of some of the most important successes we have had, and I think I am proud to say that we've been able to give him a lot of great experiences."
Sunderland is currently directing the squad's Vuelta a España effort, where Carlos Sastre is aiming to add his home Grand Tour victory to the French win he claimed at July's Tour de France. Sastre announced on Thursday he would be joining the TestTeam, setup by Team CSC-Saxo Bank's current bike sponsor.
"We are happy with the time we had with Scott, and we wish him the bet of luck with his new team and the new experiences he will have with them," added Riis.
Cervélo announced on August 28 it would launch its own Professional Continental squad in 2009, and that it would cease its bike supplier deal with Team CSC-Saxo Bank. Since then Team CSC-Saxo Bank has announced Specialized Bicycles will supply its bikes for 2009, while the Cervélo TestTeam has announced Jean-Paul van Poppel will leave his Team Flexpoint women's team to take up a sports director position on the new squad.
Vroomen confirms Sastre signing
Cervélo co-founded Gerard Vroomen has confirmed Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre's announcement he will join the Cervélo TestTeam in 2009. Vroomen announced on August 28 his company would form the Professional Continental team with Zipp, Speedplay, Vittoria and 3T - all formerly Team CSC-Saxo Bank suppliers like Cervélo itself.
"We are very proud and pleased to confirm that Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre has signed to ride for Cervélo TestTeam," said Vroomen. "Carlos was the first rider who signed for our new team."
"With his incredible kindness as well as his hardworking and determined character, we consider Carlos to be the ideal man to embody the attitude and spirit of our new team," he added. "We have long considered him a friend, so we are ecstatic that he is willing to support this pioneering venture."
Sastre's future had been the centre of much speculation in recent weeks. Many expected the rider had been wooed by Tinkoff Credit Systems owner Oleg Tinkov, after the Russian businessmen hinted he was chasing the Spaniard for his Katusha team, due to be launched in 2009.
"This is a new and unconventional format, but, to his credit, he instantaneously jumped on board and we are very appreciative of that," added Vroomen. "We are now in the process of building a great team around him and there will be more exciting announcements in the near future."