By Gregor Brown
Rudy Pevenage will make his return to cycling with USA's Team Rock Racing after more than two years of being idle. The Belgian, known for his relationship with 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, will act as a point of contact in Europe and directeur sportif for the Continental team of Michael Ball.
Pevenage explained why he decided to return to the sport. "[Ivan] Basso is making his comeback, a lot of riders are making a comeback; If I could not make a comeback then I would not understand that – I did not kill someone, you know," he said to Cyclingnews.
It will be his first job back within a cycling team since the 2006 scandal, and the Belgian explained that he is ready for any of the negative publicity that may come because of his former links to Operación Puerto and the doctor at the center of the scandal, Eufemiano Fuentes.
"You know I was out of my job for two and half years and it [cost] a lot of money on lawyers and problems. I think I paid enough for the phone calls to Fuentes. ... The calls to Fuentes were the reason they, Telekom, put me out."
Pevenage will not only direct the team, but also provide Ball with important contacts in Europe. The American wants to see his team race more in Europe for the 2009 season. The team is barred from entering cycling's top events, like the Tour and Giro d'Italia, because of its third division status.
"I saw the organisation of Rock Racing when I went to LA [Los Angeles]. I saw the way they are working and they are a very organised team. I know the riders that are there, not all of them, but a lot of them.
"For me it is not important that it is a continental team. My goal will be to bring the team up to a higher level. ... I have contacted several race organisations in Spain, Belgium and Germany in the last three to four days, and I am waiting for the answers. ... I am sure that with this team we will go to several races. There are enough races that we can go to prove that we are okay."
Pevenage believes that Ullrich will not follow in his steps and make a cycling comeback. He ruled out his former protégé coming back for 2009, but hesitated to cancel the thought completely for the subsequent seasons.
"Jan and Michael spoke, but it is not my business. ... Michael said, 'I want to meet Jan, he is a very nice man and I was always a fan of his.' They met each other [in Los Angeles] and it was very nice for them. I think that there can be a place for Jan, but I don't know and it is only speculation."