One-time Finnish cycling prodigy Jukka Vastaranta is set to return to road racing in 2010 with Greek Continental team SP Tableware-Gatsoulis Bikes. Vastaranta has spent the last couple of seasons focused mainly on mountain biking after quitting the pro road scene in the middle of 2007 due to health problems.
The 25-year-old Finn looked set to become a an outstanding stage race performer when he emerged into the ProTour with Rabobank in 2005. Signed to the Dutch squad's Continental team in 2003 on the back of his silver medal in the World Junior Road Race Championship in 2002, the 2004 Finnish time trial champion rarely achieved the level of performance that was widely expected of him.
In his first ProTour season he finished third overall in the Tour of Luxembourg, won a stage at the Ster Elektrotoer and made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España. However, he was already being badly affected by back and sciatic nerve problems. After a disappointing 2006 season, he was released by Rabobank and spent half a season with the Belgian Jartazi team before quitting the road altogether.
After extensive treatment on his back, Vastaranta made a road comeback in Finland last year, and went well enough to look for a deal for 2010. "I've lost two seasons but that's all part of my experience. Now I want to take advantage of the opportunity I have with SP Tableware and come back stronger than before," he said on the announcement of his new deal.
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