Columbia-High Road kicked off their season on Saturday with a team presentation at the squad?s training camp hotel in Mallorca.
Mark Cavendish, Kim Kirchen and the rest of the Columbia-High Road squad – both the women?s and men?s team – were introduced by owner Bob Stapleton.
In a low-key, straightforward presentation, the squad outlined the plans for their 36 riders for 2009 – 11 in the women?s team and 25 in the men?s team.
Amongst those who join Columbia are former Credit Agricole rider Mark Renshaw, currently in Australia for the Nationals and Tour Down Under. Renshaw will ride as a lead-out man for Cavendish.
Apart from the riders, one new development for 2009 is that the squad’s name has changed from Columbia to Columbia-High Road. Columbia remain the main backer, but the re-appearance of High Road, the US company who own the team, indicates that the position of co-title sponsor is up for grabs.
Secondly the team kit has changed from predominantly blue to a mixture of yellow and white, with the two colours symbolizing success in cycling and clean racing.
After the presentation, Cavendish confirmed to Cycling Weekly that the green jersey in the Tour as well as Ghent-Wevelgem are two of his 2009 objectives. He also said that he is in great shape for this time of year.
The riders then went off for a brief training ride, with the media following in team cars.
?We?ve split the men?s team into three groups for training,? team sports director Valerio Piva commented.
?One group is for the Tour of Qatar and the Classics, and will be doing rides of up to five or six hours.? Cavendish, whose first race will be Qatar, on February 1st, is in this group.
?Another is for the major Tours and is going a little easier, whilst finally there is a group of riders who have had illness or injury, who are doing just an hour or so a day.?
A full report on the team launch will appear in Thursday?s edition of Cycling Weekly.