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Luke Roberts is starting to enjoy his time on the podium as the KOM leader.
Luck the key ingredient for a 2011 contract
Luke Roberts has done his chances of finding a new professional team no harm with another top 10 overall and the mountains classification at this year's Santos Tour Down Under, which finished yesterday.
The South Australian was dominant in the latter classification whilst finishing just 28 seconds behind overall winner Cameron Meyer of Garmin-Cervélo. He may have shown his class with his performance over the past week but it doesn't guarantee him a place in a professional team for this season, however.
Roberts was one of Pegasus Sports' marquee riders, having made the decision to join the fledgling outfit that aimed to gain ProTour status and then changed its goal to a ProConti licence, which was not forthcoming late last year. With "nothing concrete" from Pegasus regarding a Continental ride for 2011, it's left Roberts in a sticky predicament.
"It's extremely stressful for the riders over the last month; the position I was in at the Tour, with so many ProTour points... I made the decision to go with the Australian pro team and be a part of the project. After what happened there are a lot of unanswered questions - I don't know whether to put the blame on the management or the blame lies with the UCI..." Roberts told Cyclingnews at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
"To me there are just unanswered questions and at the end of the day it's the riders who are the victims of the whole thing. Some riders are lucky to get out and find spots somewhere else but there are still riders who are sitting here and have been totally burned by it."
With the advent of GreenEdge Cycling, there's the possibility Roberts could aim for a ride at the team headed up by former Australian Institute of Sport director of high performance, Shayne Bannan. The former CSC rider, who has ridden the Tour de France and has an Olympic gold medal to his credit, says that the timeframe involved could hurt him, with the Australian professional outfit not beginning competition until 2012.
"I could try to bridge the year and see if some doors open up for next year but I've had a couple of years already in my career trying to bridge to make the next year," explained Roberts. "I then had a break with Milram and it was a lot of luck getting that contract.
"I had a good year with Milram - I can't say I made the money there to save up and bridge another year; I figured the year I had there should have led to other things, like securing a ProTour place but to be left empty-handed it's going to be hard to bridge another year and wait for next year. I have to hope something comes up soon."
Recently it was reported that Roberts has had interest from Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank-Sungard team; with the Dane in Australia and able to watch Roberts' strong ride in Australia last week there's a good chance he could go to the squad with which he spent three years. There's also a lifeline through Saxo Bank-Sungard directeur sportif Brad McGee, who won gold with Roberts as part of the team pursuit squad at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
A call back to the fold would make a suitable birthday present for the 33-year-old, who celebrates his 34th birthday tomorrow.
"There's interest there, but at this stage teams are either full - their roster is full - or their budget is spent. It's basically a matter of asking a favour from a team to take on a rider," said Roberts. "It's going to be tough - I'm still working away but I'm trying to stay positive. Come next month when the house payments are due and I don't have anything there, it hurts."