Julien Absalon sticking with Orbea until 2012

Olympic cross-country winner aiming for another gold

French mountain bike champion Julien Absalon has extended his contract with the Orbea Racing Team for three more years.

The deal, signed during the Roc d'Azur mountain bike race in France, means the two-time Olympic cross-country winner will remain with Orbea for the next Games in London in 2010.

"I love being with Orbea. They offer me reliability, the best bikes and a great team. I want to stay here until I retire," said Absalon.

Team manager Ixio Barandiarán gave a press conference with Absalon to announce the news."He's the best biker and part of the family now," Barandiarán said. "He not only wins races. He's also involved in developing the bikes, and he's an icon for us."

Absalon won gold at the Olympics in Athens, Greece, in 2004 and Beijing, China, in 2008. "I'm going for my third Olympic gold medal [in London], and I want to win the World Championships again," he said. "I've got some very important challenges before me, and I'm motivated to go all out for them."

Absalon has won the World Championship cross-country four times, most recently in 2007. He claimed the 2009 World Cup overall win, his fourth consecutive such title.He has been with the Orbea team since 2006.

"I want to stay here until the end of my sporting career, helping to create bikes, and perhaps after I retire, I'll dedicate myself to endurance cycling, which I really like," he said. Absalon will take part in the Megavalanche race on Reunion Island this December, as he does every year.

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