Italian veteran Matteo Tosatto has vented his anger against former Quick Step boss Patrick Lefevere after he struggled to find a team for 2011.
Tosatto has ridden for Quick Step for five years and hoped to end his career with the Belgian team. But he failed to reach an agreement with Lefevere for 2011 after months of drawn out talks and only recently signed a one-year contract with Bjarne Riis’ Saxo Bank team.
“I have a lot of things I’d like to get off my chest but I’ll wait until the end of the season…” Tosatto admitted to Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I tried to get in touch with Lefevere for six months. At the Vuelta I got an offer in a text message. We’d agreed I could speak to other teams but then Patrick stopped answering my phone calls and just sent me an email telling me my time was up. Things could have worked out better because I was ready to end my career with Quick Step.”
After several refusals from other teams, Tosatto began talking to Riis at the world championships in Australia, where he again played a key role in the Italian team. The Danish team manager has been forced to rebuild his squad after many of his key riders and staff moved to the new Luxembourg Cycling Project and needed an experienced domestique.
“We talked at the Tour of Lombardy and reached a deal in ten minutes. It took a month to sign the contract because Bjarne had other riders to sort out,” Tosatto explained. “But we kept talking. He’s a great motivator. At one point he asked me how old I was and I thought that would end things but he told me: ‘A rider like you can still win races. You’ve still got another three years in you.’ ”
Saxo Bank training camp
Tosatto is set to join up with his new teammates at their first training camp in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands on Sunday. He hopes Contador can rapidly resolve his Clenbuterol doping case and perhaps be at the training camp.
“I hope the whole thing is sorted out quickly and as well as possible,” he said. “Bjarne hopes so too. He built the team around Contador but is convinced that Porte is really good and that he can re-launch (Nick) Nuyens. Riis manages to get the best out of everyone, including young riders.”
Tosatto was again one of the corner stones of the Italian team at the world championships. During his 14-year career he has only won seven races but has played a role in four Italian world championship victories, starting in 2002, when Mario Cipollini won in Zolder.
“I’ve raced with the biggest team leaders but I’ve always had to work hard to earn an Italian jersey,” he said. “Ballerini was the first national coach to believe in me in 2002. I’ve still got the letter he sent me back then. I went back and read it again this year before the worlds.”