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Deignan talks about future at Radioshack

Posted 12 October 2010

Philip Deignan has signed a new one year contract with Team Radioshack where he will work with legendary director Johan Bruyneel to plot his return to the top echelons of the sport.

The Donegal rider was delighted to confirm the news this morning and is confident that the Pro Tour team, which was built around seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, will enable him to close the book on a troubled year.

Deignan called an end to a ‘nightmare’ year with his withdrawal from this month’s Vuelta á Espana and has already resumed training for the 2011 season having discussed his plans with Bruyneel, the man who masterminded Armstrong’s seven Tour wins.

The 27 year old was forced to find a new team one year before the end of his contract with the Cervelo Test Team which announced before the start of the Vuelta that it was to fold at the end of the year.

“To get on a team like Radioshack so late in the season is great. I wanted to go to a team that was well organised and well structured with a good race programme. A team like Radioshack ticked all of those boxes and I am delighted to be riding for them next season,” he said.

The deal was brokered by Deignan’s long time agent Andrew McQuaid of Azzuri Sports Management with Radioshack understood to be one of a number of teams interested in signing the 2009 Vuelta stage winner.

“Johan Bruyneel rang me a few days ago. It was the first time that I have spoken to him as all the contract negotiations were handled by Andrew. I had a great talk with him and it left me feeling very positive,” he said.

“When you look at how many Tour de Frances he has won with Lance, which was seven, and then with Contador, it was like talking to the Alex Ferguson or Jose Murhino of the cycling world.

“This is the start of a new chapter in my career and it will be a great experience working with the team. I don’t know what the situation is with Lance Armstrong and how much racing he will do next year, but it is a huge team with so many great riders and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

The team, which is backed by U.S. electronics retail giant of the same name, was built around Armstrong and includes experienced stage race and Grand Tour riders like Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner and Andreas Kloden.

It is also home to emerging talent like Janez Brajkovic, the 26 year old Slovenian who defeated Alberto Contador to win this year’s Criterium du Dauphine.

The team failed to secure an invite to participate in this year’s Vuelta and turned down an opportunity to participate in the Giro to focus on the Tour of California and Tour de France.

Leipheimer, a three times winner of the U.S. race, was their best placed rider in the events in which the team did participate finishing third in California and 13th overall in a disappointing Tour for the team.

Deignan’s qualities as a climber and Grand Tour rider are certain to present Bruyneel and the team managment with new options for the 2011 season and the Donegal man is acutely aware of the opportunities that exist once he returns to form.

“I really want to get focused and healthy for next year and get back to the level I was at when I rode the Vuelta last year. I am going to see the team doctor and after that I will visit the Sports Institute in Northern Ireland to do some work with them,” Deignan explained.

“My plan for the winter is to look after myself and to stay healthy. I haven’t spoken to the team about my race programme for next year as it is only October but there is plenty of time for that,” he said.

“I have had a few weeks off now and I feel healthier and stronger. I have started back training with some gym and will probably do bike work in Majorca this month. I want to be fresh for the team training camps in December and January,” he added.

Deignan felt that he had taken the right decision to end his season having struggled to recover and to compete on the big climbs during the start of the second week in the Vuelta.

“I had not recovered from the viral infection I had. I had some blood tests before the Vuelta and the medical team were 50:50 about whether I should have started. It’s hard if you go into a race like that to improve when you’re sick.

“The first week I went as easy as I could each day. I didn’t want to push myself too hard, too early. I wasn’t going for the GC so I didn’t mind losing fifteen or twenty minutes a day so long as I was feeling good.

“The first day I pushed myself was the seventh or eighth stage. I did a bit on the front and went a bit deep and the day after I could really feel it and knew I was not recovering properly.

“We had a climb the day after the first rest day and I said to myself that I’d go 100%. I tried as hard as I could to stay with the front group of 50 riders but I was dropped and I was not getting any better.

“I spoke to the team doctor that night and he said there was obviously something wrong with me when I couldn’t stay with the front group so the next day the only option left for me when I thought about everything was to pull out at the feed station,” he explained.

While he is looking forward to starting with Radioshack, whom he believes are better organised and managerially structured than his former team, he has no regrets about his time with the Swiss outfit which he describes as a positive experience.

“I learned a huge amount at Cervelo. Every year you ride you learn something new. Last year was a great breakthrough year and I have great memories of working with the team and staff at Cervelo.

“It was a big change coming from a French team like AG2R after four years to a new team with all this great equipment. While I have a lot of good memories from my time there, this year I have a lot of bad memories because my form wasn’t there. Overall it was a very positive experience but right now I’m focused on the next chapter in my career,” he said.

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