After weeks of rumours and speculation, Team CSC-Saxo Bank's Carlos Sastre has finally announced that he is leaving the Danish squad and joining new outfit Cervélo Test Team as of next season. The 2008 Tour de France winner made the news official on his personal website, www.carlossastre.com, on Thursday. He will be holding a press conference on the Vuelta a España rest day on Friday.
Sastre, who had been linked to Oleg Tinkov's new Katusha team, finally opted to sign with the Canadian bike manufacturer because "it is a new project which fits very well with my way of being. It offers the opportunity to open frontiers and collaborate more actively with our sponsors and their clients. At the same time, we can contribute more efficiently to improving the technology of our materials."
The Cervélo Test Team, whose name may change before the 2009 season as the company is seeking another title sponsor, will serve as a proving ground for product development of five bike industry leaders, namely Cervélo, Zipp, Speedplay, Vittoria and 3T, as well as providing race results under a Professional Continental license.
"Race performance is only one component of Cervélo TestTeam," said Cervélo co-founder Gerard Vroomen. "Our riders will also be involved in field-testing and providing technical feedback. In addition they will participate in activities with our customers, making them more accessible to cycling fans."
Sastre thanked his former Team CSC-Saxo Bank and its manager Bjarne Riis for "seven unforgettable years", while at the same time explaining that he wanted to "look ahead into the future to find those motivations which will help me continue enjoying the bike. This is the main reason why I chose the Cervélo Test Team project. With it, a new and exciting road opens up to me that gives me new objectives for the remainder of my career."
Sastre is expected to reveal more about his choice in a press conference in Lleida, Spain, on Friday evening.
Sunderland also leaving to Cervélo
Along with Sastre, team CSC-Saxo Bank directeur sportif Scott Sunderland is also leaving the Danish squad at the end of this season to become sports manager at the new Team Cervélo, he announced Friday.
The Australian said that he had very much enjoyed his four years at CSC, but that it was time to "pursue a further growth in my career," adding, "I have been blessed, or maybe cursed - it's how you look at it, with a restless and adventurous nature and especially since our Tour de France victory, I have felt an increasing urge to move on to different challenges, get off the beaten track once again."
With the new team, Sunderland said, "The companies supporting this project have invited me to help develop a thriving team out of the group of both prominent and younger riders and skilled staff from 2009 onward."
"I hope to accomplish just that. Team Cervélo will have no stress concerning actual race results in its first season, that's only a realistic starting point, but knowing the ambitious temperament of all the people involved in this team; there won't be any economising on efforts. "
He thanked CSC-Saxo Bank and Riis for the opportunities they had given him, saying, "I won't just be leaving fantastic colleagues but mostly very good friends behind at Team CSC-Saxo Bank."
Sunderland is also a Cyclingnews diarist. The full text of his statement will be online soon.
Sastre ended weeks of conjecture Friday morning when he announced that he was joining Team Cervélo. Including him, there are 11 CSC riders whose contracts with the Danish team the end of this season, raising the possibility that one or more of them might also join Cervélo.