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Hoste set to join Katusha in 2011

Leif Hoste revealed he is close to reaching an agreement to ride for the Russian Katusha team in 2011, describing the deal as "91 percent done."

Hoste has ridden for Omega-Pharma-Lotto for the last four years. He finished second at the Tour of Flanders in 2004, 2006 and 2007, but has struggled to obtain any major results since then.

He has been overshadowed by the presence of Philippe Gilbert at Omega Pharma-Lotto during the last two seasons and seems ready for a new challenge. He would join forces with Filippo Pozzato for the cobbled Classics and provide some valuable experience after 12 years as a professional. During his career, Hoste has ridden for Mapei, Domo-Farm Frites and the Discovery Channel team. He is also a three-time Belgian time trial national champion.

“I’ve enjoyed myself at Lotto, but moving to Katusha will be another new challenge and a breath of fresh air,” Hoste told Belgian sports channel Sporza.

“It was (Katusha Sports Directeur Sportif) Jef Braeckevelt who contacted me. I could stay where I am, but what he proposed sounded good, both from a financial and sporting point of view.”

Katusha is also understood to be chasing a stage race team leader for 2011. Denis Menchov would fit perfectly into the team’s objective of supporting promising and prominent Russian cyclists. However the 2009 Giro d’Italia winner, who finished third in this year’s Tour de France, is also a target for the Astana team, as they look for a replacement for Alberto Contador.

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.