Australian Luke Roberts has inked a deal that puts him back with the Saxo Bank team, run by Bjarne Riis.
The team announced signing of the 34-year-old Roberts and emerging Polish talent Rafal Majka.
Roberts rode for the team from 2005 to 2007, while the team’s title sponsor was CSC.
“We know Luke and his assets very well,” said Riis. “He is a real pro, strong and experienced, and he is a rider you can rely on in all kinds of races. He has experience from grand tours and the ability to strengthen our classics group. So I’m obviously happy to get him on board.”
As a track rider Luke Roberts won an Olympic team pursuit gold medal in 2004, and three world championship titles in the same discipline. On the road, Roberts has earned wins in the Tour Down Under and Tour of Murcia. Last year, Roberts rode for the now-defunct Milram team and then signed on to ride with team Pegasus, an unsuccessful effort to put an Australian ProTeam on the road for 2011.
“I’m extremely grateful that Bjarne Riis has offered me this opportunity, and I really want to repay the trust the team has shown me in a difficult situation,” Roberts said. “Bjarne was the first team owner offering me the opportunity to ride on the Pro Tour back in 2005, and I have learned a lot from the way he approaches things and runs the team. In my opinion it is one of the most professional teams in the world. So it’s an honor for me to be back.”
Roberts said he is looking forward to his first race in a Saxo Bank-SunGard kit.
“I think I bring a lot to the team,” he said. “I can make an impact in the classics, be a leader in smaller races and a hardworking domestic in grand tours. Last year I rode both the Giro and the Tour de France for Milram.”
Roberts joins his new teammates at this week’s training camp on Mallorca along with the 21-year-old Majka.
“I had Rafal Majka recommended some months ago,” Riis noted. “He attended our last training camp on Mallorca, made a strong impression and convinced me that he is a huge talent. He is young, a strong all rounder and a skilled climber, so this was an offer, that was hard to refuse. My hope is to build him into a stage race rider.”
Majka, who is leaving the Italian U23 Trevigiani Bottoli team, said the offer represents the biggest opportunity of his career.
“This is a great moment for me,” Majka said. “It’s a dream come true to become a pro rider at such a big team as Saxo Bank-SunGard and be able to ride with my idol Alberto Contador. I’m very thankful for this opportunity. A special thanks goes to the management of Trevigiani Bottoli, president Mosole and sports director Mirko Rossato, who spotted me and gave me my first opportunity. I am truly grateful that they understood that I couldn’t refuse this opportunity.”