RadioShack team officials confirmed Wednesday that they’re studying their budget to add riders who might opt out of the Pegasus team following the decision Monday to deny the Australian start-up team a Pro Continental license.
Team spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed to VeloNews that RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel is studying the team’s budget for 2011 to see if there’s room to add one or more riders, including veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen.
“Yes, we’re interested, but because we’re interested doesn’t mean we’ll have some new riders. The problem for all the teams is that budget is closed for 2011. Johan Bruyneel is still looking to try to do something,” Martens said. “I don’t think the sponsors will give more money. If he wants to do something, he will have to try to find money in the budget.”
Speculation that RadioShack would be interested in signing additional riders began Monday moments after the Pegasus decision broke when Lance Armstrong posted on his Twitter a message that he and Bruyneel were studying their options: “On the phone w/ @JohanBruyneel talking @TeamRadioShack and possibly making some roster additions.”
RadioShack’s roster is all but closed, with 27 riders signed on for the 2011 season. The core of the team remained, with five departures — including retirement for Chechu Ruberia, the doping suspension for clenbuterol for Fuyu Li and the late-hour exit of Geert Steegmans to QuickStep.
It’s Steegmans’ departure this week for the Belgian outfit that could open space for at least one new arrival to RadioShack.
Maertens said Steegmans’ move to Quick Step was a “mutual decision.”
“He wasn’t happy with us and we weren’t happy with him,” Maertens said. “He wasn’t winning a lot and we are a team for the stage races, so he had to do it (the sprints) all by himself. Both parties didn’t see a big future. There wasn’t a big dispute, it was a question that if he could find another team. And that’s what happened.”
McEwen’s name is on everyone’s tongue, but RadioShack could also find room for the return of Daryl Impey, who left the U.S.-registered team after one season to join Pegasus for 2011.