Rui Costa joins Lampre, looking to lead

Costa cuts a one-year deal to see if he fits in while testing his wings

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SANXENXO, Spain (VN) — Rui Costa, the ever-improving Portuguese rider, has signed a one-year deal with Lampre-Merida for the 2014 season.

Costa, a winner of two stages in this year’s Tour de France, leaves Movistar to join the Italian outfit with the promise of having more chances to lead during the major races.

The 26-year-old is an improving stage racer, winning back-to-back editions of the Tour de Suisse. But with the rise of Nairo Quintana and the presence of veteran Alejandro Valverde, Costa realized he could never get the chance to lead in the Tour.

“I believe the moment’s come to aspire for me, especially in the Tour,” Costa said. “Lampre is an ideal ambiance for me to try to achieve this goal. I am sure I’ve made the right choice.”

Costa later explained on his Twitter account that he opted for a one-year deal to assure that he fit in with the team.

Lampre, meanwhile, is shopping for quality riders to fill out its roster. Alessandro Petacchi retired, and then came out of retirement to join Omega Pharma-Quick Step, while veterans Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego seem past their best.

Early in his career, Costa was perhaps best known as being on the receiving end of Carlos Barredo’s finish-line tirade during the 2010 Tour.

Today, Costa is developing into a stage-race contender, and is a potential winner of such classics as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia.

Costa joined the Movistar franchise in 2009, with his best grand-tour result being 18th in the 2012 Tour.

Movistar, meanwhile, is betting heavily on Quintana, who is expected to sign a big-dollar contract extension to stay with the Spanish team.

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