Like most of his compatriots, Luke Roberts has found himself mentioned in the same breath as GreenEdge when it comes to a possible team for 2012, but the man himself would like to set the record straight given the persistent rumours surrounding his future.
"I've found myself in a bit of a sticky situation," he told Cyclingnews before the start of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour's third stage in Geelong on Friday, although still with a smile on his face.
"Even my own boss here [at Saxo Bank-SunGard] thought I was going [to GreenEdge]," Roberts continued. "It's a difficult market this season with RadioShack and Leopard merging, HTC closing – there are a lot of good bike riders still looking for places. It's going to be tough again, but I'll stay positive and hope something comes up."
And so for the second year in a row, the 34-year-old Australian domestique finds himself without a team late in the season. The week before Christmas in 2010 Pegasus, where he had signed on as a marquee rider, collapsed given the project was unable to secure a ProTour of Professional Continental licence. Roberts, like many other riders was left high and dry given his previous outfit, Milram had folded due to a lack of sponsorship.
Roberts was offered a lifeline in late February by Saxo Bank – SunGard having shown he was far from finished at the Tour Down Under where he rode for the Australian National Team, claiming 10th overall and the King of the Mountains Classification.
"I was really grateful to Bjarne [Riis] for what he did for me," Roberts explained. "He's always been good to me since I rode with CSC for three years. I kept in good contact with him and when heard of the situation with Pegasus he did his best to help me out.
"I've got to see if we can continue to work together now," he continued hopefully. "I'd like to stay for sure, it's a great team. I've raced in several different teams now and from the organisation, the way the staff operate, it's probably the best I've ever seen. From what I've heard from other riders it's probably the best in the world."
Roberts is happy with how the year has panned out "all things considered" but maintains a hunger to do more in his professional road career which began in 2005 after he claimed gold as part of the Australian team pursuit squad at the 2004 Olympic Games on the track.
"I still believe I'm capable of winning Tour Down Under," he admitted. "I was fifth last year, 10th this year without an ideal preparation. With a hilltop finish on Willunga, I think it makes it even better for my own chances. I know the roads so well; I know the race so well. I've got a huge advantage going into the race.
"Also, to be part of a Tour de France winning team or a Tour de France stage win. I know I'm capable of. Everything else, I've pretty much crossed off."
As a sports journalist and producer since 1997, Jane has covered Olympic and Commonwealth Games, rugby league, motorsport, cricket, surfing, triathlon, rugby union, and golf for print, radio, television and online. However her enduring passion has been cycling.
Jane is a former Australian Editor of Cyclingnews from 2011 to 2013 and continues to freelance within the cycling industry.
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