Cervelo co-founder Gerard Vroomen has confirmed to Cyclingnews that the Cervelo TestTeam never in fact offered Carlos Sastre a contract for the coming season. The 35-year-old signed a two-year deal with Cervelo in 2009 and with no offer forthcoming and his deal about to expire, announced that he had signed a deal with Team Geox for 2011.
“We’d had discussions with him about what would be best for the future for him but we’d not offered him a contract,” Vroomen told Cyclingnews from Toronto.
“We gave him all the freedom to chat with other teams like Geox, so there’s no surprise from our side and there are no hard feelings. We were aware that there was a negotiation going on and Carlos was at the end of his contract.”
Vroomen was full of praise for the Spaniard, who will still lead the team at the Vuelta later this month. It will be his third grand tour this year.
“He’s been an ambassador for us for eight years and I’m happy that he’s been able to find a good contract out there in the market.”
Sastre has had a mixed two years with the team. While he has been at the forefront of their competitiveness in stage races, he has never rediscovered the form that helped him win the Tour de France in 2008. There have been the odd flashes of brilliance – two stages and third overall at the 2009 Giro – but his two Tours with Cervelo both ended in disappointment.
Vroomen decided to dwell on the positive though and wished Sastre all the best. “It’s been a good and interesting two years and everyone has learnt quite a bit and I think frankly if he can infuse his new team with something positive that would be a good thing for cycling.”
Vroomen pointed to last year’s Giro as the highlight of their partnership together. However, instead of singling out Sastre’s results in the race, he chose to pick up on the Spaniard’s leadership qualities that he demonstrated on and off the bike.
“Maybe the highlight was last year’s Giro where we went with a lot of riders that had never done a grand tour in their lives and all nine got to the finish line. That was the greatest moment but wasn’t perhaps something that everyone noticed. I think he taught those guys a lot on how to still be around in the third week. That’s what sticks out the most for me.”
“Obviously he’s great rider and great guy but honestly I’m happy he found a good contract out there. He deserves that.”
With Sastre moving on, Cervelo are short of options in the stage racing department. However with most riders already tied down to contracts for next year, Vroomen may be forced to develop his existing crop of riders. For now though, he remained tight-lipped on possible moves in the transfer market.
“I have no doubt that we’ll be quite competitive next year. Unlike most teams and riders we do our negotiations in private. I know that’s very unusual in cycling but I think that’s the right way to do it.”