Belgian classics specialist, Leif Hoste will leave Omega Pharma-Lotto at the end of the year to join Russia’s team Katusha.

“You can call it a change of air,” he told Sportwereld. “I was enjoying myself with my current team Omega Pharma-Lotto, but switching to Katusha offers a new challenge.”

Hoste, 33, still needs to sign the contract, but said that the two-year deal is 91 per cent done and will be 100 per cent by September.

At Katusha, he will pair with Italian Filippo Pozzato. Often in the past, the two fought directly to win the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, though, neither has pulled it off yet.

Hoste finished three times second at the Tour of Flanders (2004, 2006 & 2007). He has won the Belgian time trial championship three times and the 2006 Three Days of De Panne.

Omega Pharma boss, Marc Sergeant offered Hoste the chance to renew, but Hoste said that Katusha’s offer was too attractive to refuse.

“Both on the sporting and financial level,” he added. “It’s a good formation and I will be able to race alongside ‘Pippo’ Pozzato in the races that suit me.”

Besides Hoste, Katusha’s Andrea Tchmil had looked to sign Björn Leukemans from team Vacansoleil. Belgian Leukemans finished fourth at this year’s Tour of Flanders and sixth at Paris-Roubaix. He will continue to ride for Vacansoleil for 2011.

Hoste’s departure leave’s Sergeant more space bring in supporting riders for Philippe Gilbert. Gilbert won Amstel Gold this spring and finished third in both the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

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