Cervélo TestTeam owner, Gerard Vroomen, says his team's performance at its first Tour de France exceeded expectations. While the team's defending Tour champion, Carlos Sastre, was unable to repeat his success of a year before, Vroomen indicated his satisfaction with the squad's performances throughout their debut season.
"I think for a first year [Tour de France] team if you win a stage then you should be pretty happy but we’ve won two and Thor [Hushovd] has taken the points jersey," Vroomen told Cyclingnews. "More importantly the way we won the two stages has been crucial. What [Heinrich] Haussler did for example was talked about for a long time after he won, and Thor’s big mountain break, well, that hasn’t happened in a long time."
The Swiss registered pro continental team claimed two Tour stage wins through Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler on stages six and 13, respectively. Hushovd was also able to achieve the second overall points classification win of his career thanks, in part, to a day long breakaway on the Alpine stage 17.
Cervélo had gone into the Tour with the ambitious strategy of supporting both Hushovd and Sastre in their different objectives. Sastre finished 17th overall, 26:21 down on winner Alberto Contador. However Vroomen was satisfied with his performance and feels the Spaniard was in better form that the Giro d'Italia, where he claimed two stage wins.
"The outside world might say that the he [Sastre] didn’t perform up to the standard, but I think he did," said Vroomen. "He raced to his maximum, and that’s all we want to achieve, we want to support him but in the end if there’s one guy or ten guys who’ve found a way to be faster than him then c'est la vie."
Sastre's performance at the Giro in May also saw him finish fourth, although he could find himself awarded third place after Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes) returned two positive tests during the Italian race. Vroomen is co-owner of bicycle manufacturer and team sponsor, Cervélo. The company has previously provided bikes to top pro teams, but he said that the decision to become the major sponsor of a team allows him to play a more active role in the fight against doping in cycling.
"Of course it’s always possible that you make mistakes with [signing] someone but we’ve done a good job with picking our twenty five riders and it’s a constant job of reinforcing what we like to see and that the winning isn’t that important for us. Our riders understand that and live with that philosophy. Sometimes that’s the big problem, if you’re just a bike sponsor of a team."
Thor Hushovd's recent contract renewal with the team through 2011 is an indication of the team's stability and despite not being as big as their ProTour rivals, Cervélo have built a reputation for a strong team environment.
Vroomen is proud of a selection policy that considers more than simply a rider's results. He cited Heinrich Haussler as an example of what the team's alternative selection policy. "Heinrich Haussler will never be considered boring," he said. "He’s exciting. He gives you a good feeling to be around that kind of positive energy is good for the team and the fans."
Look out for a full feature with Gerard Vroomen on Cyclingnews in the coming days.