It was a bittersweet year for the HTC-Highroad squad, and professional cycling in general, as both the men's and women's teams continued their prolific winning ways all season long, yet disbanded after efforts to land a new title sponsor came up empty. In a fitting curtain call to the squad's seemingly ubiquitous place on podiums throughout the year, Cyclingnews' readers awarded HTC-Highroad the best team of 2011 honours with 8,434 votes (39.0%), 3,848 more than runner-up Garmin-Cervélo.
The men's and women's team earned 513 victories over their four-year run, and opened and closed the 2011 season on a (typical) high note, with victories in their first and last races of the year.
"It's wonderful to see the team successful again right to the very end of the season," general manager Bob Stapleton told Cyclingnews. "Both the men and the women won their first race of the season in January and now they have both won the last race (Tony Martin and Amber Neben won their respective events at the Chrono des Nations to conclude the season). It's testament to the attitude of all of our staff and riders over the years and I'm very proud of their success."
Fifteen different riders on the men's team accounted for 56 wins in 2011, led by Mark Cavendish with 13 and Tony Martin with 12, and team members finished on the podium an additional 55 times throughout the season. Among the wins were numerous national titles, stage victories in all three Grand Tours, a Monument (Milan-San Remo), plus overall wins at stage races such as the Tour of Qatar, Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, and the Tour of Beijing.
As 2011 was winding down, the team nearly swept the road world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark with time trial titles claimed by Tony Martin and Judith Arndt and the road title earned by Mark Cavendish. In the women's road race, HTC-Highroad's Ina Teutenberg took third behind Giorgia Bronzini and Marianne Vos in the field sprint finale.
2011 was a banner year for Garmin-Cervélo, highlighted by Johan Vansummeren's Paris-Roubaix victory, the team's first in a Monument, plus the squad's amazing run of success at the Tour de France. Garmin-Cervélo won stage 2's team time trial to notch the ProTour squad's inaugural Tour stage win, then followed the next day with a stage win by Tyler Farrar (his first Tour victory). World champion Thor Hushovd enjoyed a week-long stint in the yellow jersey and went on the attack to win stages 13 and 16. At the Tour's conclusion in Paris, the riders earned an appearance on the podium with their victory in the team classification.
Overall, the team claimed 29 victories on the season by 12 different riders plus an additional 53 podium placings
BMC finished third in the poll with 3,729 votes in a season highlighted by Cadel Evans' Tour de France victory.
2011 Best Team:
1 HTC-Highroad 8,434 (39.0%)
2 Team Garmin-Cervélo 4,586 (21.2%)
3 BMC Racing Team 3,729 (17.2%)
4 Sky Procycling 1,837 (8.5%)
5 Team RadioShack 720 (3.3%)
6 Omega Pharma-Lotto 679 (3.1%)
7 Liquigas-Cannondale 533 (2.5%)
8 Team Europcar 504 (2.3%)
9 Saxo Bank-Sungard 400 (1.8%)
10 Rabobank Cycling Team 212 (1.0%)