Team High Road maybe without a main sponsor but the now US-registered team has the potential for a highly successful 2008; and British riders Bradley Wiggins, Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish are a key part of that.
The team held their team presentation in California on Friday afternoon, officially unveiling the new seventies-style jersey just hours after announcing confirming they had been invited to the Giro d?Italia and Milan-San Remo. The news gave the team some extra motivation and created a celebratory atmosphere.
Team manager Bob Stapleton has been instrumental in saving the team after the doping scandals of 2007 and the sudden withdrawal of T-Mobile’s sponsorship. He could have walked away from the sport but instead has kept everybody together, reinforced the team’s ‘race clean’ ethic, and is determined to rebuild the team and find a major sponsor as soon as possible.
?I?m very excited to have 42 riders from 14 different countries. We?ve got a remarkable group of people and we?ve given them a chance to show their qualities,? Stapleton said during the presentation hosted by Phil Liggett.
?They?re all motivated by personal commitment but want to work as a team and succeed with fair needs. For me that’s what sport really brings to society. It?s all backed by robust testing and best practices from in and outside of the world of cycling and we?re giving it to these athletes. I?m very excited it has all come together.?
Both the men?s and women?s High road line-ups are packed with a perfect balance of experienced riders who can win major races, and young talent that is keen to learn and win as much as possible.
The men?s team includes the sprinting talent of Mark Cavendish, Gerald Ciolek, Norway?s Edvald Boasson Hagen and current ProTour leader Andre Greipel. Young stage race riders include Linus Gerdemann, who wore the yellow jersey in the 2007 Tour de France, the talented Thomas Lovkist and Germany?s Tony Martin who was second in the Tour de l?Avenir.
They can all benefit from the work ethic and experience of the ?veterans? of the group that include George Hincapie, Roger Hammond, Michael Rogers, Michael Barry, Servais Knaven and new arrival Bradley Wiggins.
The directeur sportifs are as equally talented and experienced with Rolf Aldag, Alan Peiper and Brian Holm amongst the men driving the team car and calling the tactics.
Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish are part of the powerful High Road team that will ride the Tour of California from Sunday. Wiggins is on form and fancies his chances in the 3.4km prologue time trial, while Cav, who has a new scarecrow haircut much like that of Wiggins, has made it clear he is ready to take on Tom Boonen in the sprint finishes.
Roger Hammond travelled home after the presentation and will make his debut in the Volta a Algarve before targeting Het Volk and Paris-Nice before the spring classics.
There will be more from High Road team presentation in Thursday?s Cycling Weekly.
Bradley Wiggins. Photos: Steve Farrand