Phonak announce more signingsClose
The impression that Phonak are signing up just about every bit of talent available has only been incPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Almost every big name looking for a new team at the end of this season has been linked with Phonak in recent weeks. Strangely given how rumours tend to pan out, many of those big names are now confirmed as being on the way to the Swiss squad, which looks set to become arguably the strongest all-round team in the sport. On Monday, Phonak confirmed that reports of Santiago Botero's impending arrival were correct. The 2002 world time trial champion has signed a one-year deal with the team and will rejoin Alvaro Pino, the man who oversaw many of Botero's best moments during his seasons with Kelme. "I had an offer to re-sign with T-Mobile for another year and it was hard for me to say no to them, because in the last two years I have not performed well for them" Botero told AS. "My lack of form has been down to physical rather than psychological problems, but now I feel better. I am motivated by the prospect of working with Alvaro Pino, he was my first team manager and I got my best results with him because he knew how to get the best from me." Botero denied that he had been thinking of retiring. Botero will be joined by compatriot Victor Hugo Pe¤a at Phonak, with Pe¤a's US Postal team-mate Floyd Landis also heavily tipped to join the big budget Swiss team. Fabian Cancellara's move from Fassa Bortolo to Phonak has also been confirmed, and the long list of signings extends to Rabobank's Robert Hunter, Quick Step sprinter Aurlien Clerc and Vini Caldirola's Steve Zampieri. If that was not enough talent to back up the likes of Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla, Phonak have also done a deal with Saunier Duval sprinter Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero, who won last month's San Sebastian Classic. The deal came as a surprise to Saunier Duval, who had just agreed a two-year extension to Perdiguero's current deal, but the 32 year old has said he could not turn down the big money deal offered by Phonak. "I'm going to earn seven times what I will receive this year," said 'Perdi', who will pay a substantial rescission clause from his Saunier deal himself. Saunier boss Josean Fernandez Matxin was disappointed to hear the news, but admitted he could understand why Perdiguero was leaving. "I can understand his reasons being so near the end of his career because it would be hard for him to get another deal like this. I can't say I'm not upset, not only because I'm losing a great rider, but also because I'm losing a good friend." Some consolation for Saunier was the signing of stage race veteran I¤igo Cuesta, who will offer experienced backing to team leader Joseba Beloki.