A lot has changed at Garmin in the last few months with riders leaving, riders coming and a new co-sponsor in Barracuda coming on board.
Ten riders, including Thor Hushovd, departed for new teams in the off-season but Slipstream has picked up a number of bargains in the transfer market with Thomas Dekker, Fabian Wegmann, and Koldo Fernandez all joining.
The core of the squad remains relatively stable with Heinrich Haussler, Martijn Maaskant and Johan Van Summeren to lead at the Classics and the trio of Christrian Vande Velde, Ryder Hesjdal and Tom Danielson expected to manage the team’s expectations in the grand tours.
With part of the squad competing at the Tour Down Under the rest of the team headed to Calpe, Spain, for their second major camp in as many months. These photos, from Lucas Gilman, show off the team as they prepare for the season.
Former criterium champion returns home after European stint
After two years of racing for BMC, which included almost a full European campaign of the Spring Classics and a start in the Giro d' Italia, John Murphy has returned to competing for an American based squad.
Murphy made a two-year commitment to the Kenda/ 5-Hour Energy squad and is hoping to return to his winning ways before racing full-time in Europe. He has decamped from Europe to his new home base of Asheville, North Carolina. Previously Athens, Georgia was home, but the mountains, better training conditions and being closer to his family were the deciding reasons for his move.
With the domestic racing season only weeks away is Murphy going to miss the high level of competition he faced as a member of a WorldTour team?
"I am going to miss racing in Europe, but not living there," said Murphy. "I'm really excited to live in the U.S. again. I'll have a home base that I can actually spend some time at and see my friends and family more than once or twice a year."
Murphy's European home base was Ghent, Belgium – home to several one-day classic stars – which was appropriate for a rider pegged for that style of racing.
Madiot waiting on outcome of Offredo whereabouts case
After regaining WorldTour status for the 2012 season, FDJ-BigMat manager Marc Madiot is ready to hand greater responsibility to the team’s younger riders, with Thibaut Pinot, Arnold Jeannesson and world under 23 champion Arnaud Démare expected to continue their progress.
“We’re going to really give them their responsibilities, have them express themselves at 100 percent of their capabilities,” Madiot said, according to Ouest France. “Perhaps they will find it difficult to win the first year, but the objective is to put them in the role of leader as often as possible, racing at the front.”
“That might be the case for Thibaut Pinot if we chose to send him to the Vuelta, but also for Démare at the Tour of Qatar or the Giro, so that he might learn how to race in a Grand Tour. The team will be built around him at the Giro. He has more of a chance of not winning than of winning, but we want to put ourselves in a situation where we could win with the young riders.”
While Sandy Casar is set to make a return to the Giro d’Italia, Arnold Jeannesson will lead FDJ-BigMat at the Tour de France. 15th overall in Paris last...
While a number of their colleagues are already in racing mode at the Santos Tour Down Under or about to start their seasons at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan were among the Liquigas-Cannondale riders still fine-tuning their form at the team’s training camp in Cecina, Tuscany during the week.
Basso is building towards the Giro d’Italia and will not begin his season until February 18, at the Trofeo Laigueglia, long a staple of the early-season in Italy. His first stage race of the campaign is set to be Paris-Nice, and he will continue his Giro preparation at the Volta a Catalunya and the Giro del Trentino.
Given his ambitions in the Classics, it’s no surprise that the precocious Peter Sagan’s season begins a little earlier. He’ll measure himself in the sprints against the likes of Mark Cavendish at the Tour of Qatar and Oman, before returning to Europe. After tackling Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico, the 21-year-old will line up among the dark horses for victory at Milan-San Remo, and then head north for a tilt at the cobbled classics.
For a gallery of Liquigas-Cannondale’s recent travails in Tuscany, click here, and check out a behind-the-scenes video from the team below.