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Hunter links with Lance

Robbie Hunter, the first South African cyclist to win a Tour de France stage, has switched teams for the second time in recent months and will join up with cycling legend Lance Armstrong at Team RadioShack for the 2011 season.

Hunter, along with fellow Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen, were facing an uncertain future after Australian outfit Pegasus Sports failed to obtain a UCI Professional Continental licence.

McEwen, a three-time Tour de France points classification winner, was widely tipped to be heading to the American team of Johan Bruyneel and Armstrong since the team lost its sprinter Gert Steegmans to Quick Step earlier this month.

CyclingNews.com website reports that Bruyneel was excited at the signing of the two sprinters. “I feel sad for the riders and staff of the Pegasus project, but most of the riders deserve to race at the highest level of professional cycling. I am happy to have been able to offer two of the guys that opportunity,”┬áBruyneel said. “Moreover, we can really use both riders; they are real finishers and winners. They are both very fast and don’t need a real sprinter’s train to bring them to the last kilometre. They are ‘self-sufficient’ and will also be a wealth of knowledge for our young riders.”

Hunter, busy recovering from an ankle injury but back in training, was also understandably delighted to be signed with the team, and Bruyneel revealed that the team had tried to sign him in 2009. Hunter said that continuing with Pegasus Sports as a Continental team was not an option. “The Australians really had a nice project. I was looking forward to being part of their Team, but for me it was not an option to race on a continental team. I am still too ambitious.

“Team RadioShack suits me very well. I’ve proved in the past that I have no problem sacrificing my chances for another rider as I did last year for Tylar Farrar. Also in 2011 the team can count on me and I know that they will give me the opportunity to do my own sprints, too.”

With McEwen at 38 years of age and Hunter at 33, the two are among the older riders on the team, but with Armstrong and Chris Horner at 39, Levi Leipheimer and Jason McCartney at 37, the team has plenty of contemporaries.

“Robbie McEwen is not the youngest guy in the peloton, but in our team we know exactly what riders are capable of at a certain age,”┬ásaid Bruyneel. “Robbie proved this year that he is still able to win ProTour races. Moreover I count on him to help our very young talented riders in the team find their way in the peloton.”

The RadioShack 2011 team: Lance Armstrong (USA), Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan), Sam Bewley (New Zealand), Jani Brajkovic (Slovenia), Matthew Busche (USA), Manuel Cardoso (Portugal), Philip Deignan (Ireland), Ben Hermans (Belgium), Chris Horner (USA), Robbie Hunter (South Africa), Markel Irizar (Spain), Ben King (USA), Andreas Kl├Âden (Germany), Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Geoffroy Lequatre (France), Tiago Machado (Portugal), Jason McCartney (USA), Robbie McEwen (Australia), Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan)ÔÇ¿N├®lson Oliveira (Portugal), S├®rgio Paulinho (Portugal), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine), Gregory Rast (Switzerland), S├®bastien Rosseler (Belgium), Ivan Rovny (Russia), Jesse Sergent (New Zealand), Bj├©rn Selander (USA), Haimar Zubeldia (Spain)ÔÇ¿Directors: Johan Bruyneel (Belgium), Jos├® Azevedo (Portugal), Dirk Demol (Belgium), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia) and Alain Gallopin (France).


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