Saxo Bank's Marcus Ljungqvist has announced his retirement from professional racing and will join Team Sky as a sports director in 2010. The 35-year-old Swedish Champion said on Tuesday that despite an offer to extend his 12-year racing career with Lance Armstrong's RadioShack, he was enthusiastic about the change in perspective that his new role at Team Sky will provide.
"I can now happily confirm that my future within professional cycling will bring me the challenge of participating in the efforts to create success for the new British super team, Team Sky. I think this is a chance of a lifetime," said Ljungqvist.
"As of January 1, 2010, I will formally begin my work as one of Team Sky's sports directors. My contact with fellow Sports Director Scott Sunderland and Team Manager Dave Brailsford lead me to believe that Team Sky has the power and the ambition to set the peloton on fire in our very first season."
Ljungqvist leaves Saxo Bank after riding for Bjarne Riis' squad since 2006. His career had also seen him ride for Liquigas-Bianchi, Alessio-Bianchi, Crédit Agricole and Fakta. He said today that he had decided to end his racing career despite an offer to join Lance Armstrong's Team RadioShack for the 2010 season.
His career had included overall victory at the Tour of Luxembourg in 2002, two Swedish national titles (2001 and 2009), the Scandinavian Open (2004), as well as stage wins at Paris – Corrèze (2006) and Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt (2001).
His move to Sky will not be to an entirely unfamiliar environment. Saxo Bank teammate Kurt-Asle Arvesen will continue his competitive career with the team, while fellow sports director Scott Sunderland was Ljungqvist's teammate at both Alessio-Bianchi and Fakta.
"The possibility of working together with one of my best friends, in and outside of the peloton, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, former teammate Scott Sunderland and one of Sweden's most promising riders, Thomas Lövkvist, made my decision even easier," he said. "As did the very impressive roster of young British and international talent."
Ljungqvist's announcement comes a week after Dutchman Steven De Jongh's appointment as a Team Sky sports director last week.
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