For the next two years at least, Britain?s Charly Wegelius will be riding for Cadel Evans? Silence-Lotto team – as a top mountain domestique in the Tour.
Wegelius first coincided with Evans six years ago, when both riders were in Mapei. Since then, their paths have diverged – Evans going on to T-Mobile and then Lotto, whilst the Briton rode for De Nardi and then Liquigas.
But in 2009, the two will be back in the same team. Wegelius has been signed for two years as part of Silence-Lotto?s campaign to strengthen their overall performance in the mountains. This means that in next July, Wegelius aim is to ride for Evans in the Tour de France – and help him win it.
?I?ve had four wonderful years in Liquigas, I know that?s what riders always say when they?re leaving a squad but it happens to be true,? Wegelius tells Cycling Weekly.
?But I?ve done everything I could do in this team, it?s time for new challenges. And after so many years of riding the Giro [Wegelius has ridden six – Ed.] the opportunity of racing for Cadel in the Tour was just too good to be missed.
I love the Giro. But the Tour is the Tour, it?s the biggest race there is.?
Although he?s been signed as a mountain domestique, the 30-year-old reckons that Silence-Lotto have been overly criticised for their performance in the Alps and Pyrenees this July.
?CSC were so strong in the mountains they just eclipsed everybody. But Popo [Yaroslav Popovych, Evans team-mate] had had anything like his usual form, he would have been up there. And [Dario] Cioni got sick.
Still, they?ve signed guys like Bernhard Kohl [third and the King of the Mountains in last year?s Tour]. So that?s going to make a pretty big difference in any case.
It?s like things have come full circle, I?m back with Cadel just like in 2002. But it?ll be good, too, to be back with guys like Roberto Damiani, Marc Sergeant and Stefano Zanini.?
Now with Silence-Lotto, Damiani and Sergeant were Wegelius directeur sportifs back in Mapei. Zanini, now retired, was one of Wegelius team-mates.
?I used to live in a flat under Stefano?s house. I wonder what it?ll be like having him as a boss,? Wegelius adds with a chuckle.
In 2009, it?s just one of the things he?ll be finding out in Silence-Lotto. Another will be working for one of the top contenders for overall victory in the Tour de France.