The musical chairs of the transfer season haven't stopped moving yet as Columbia-HTC confirmed its signing of triple Danish time trial champion Lars Ytting Bak from Saxo Bank.
The affable Dane won the 2005 editions of the Tour de l'Avenir and Paris-Bourges, the team time trial at the 2005 Tour Méditerranéen, the first stage of the 2008 Tour de Pologne and stage five of this year's Benelux Tour, although it's as a tireless teammate that Bak has forged a solid reputation; Team CSC, later Team Saxo Bank, has benefited from his services for five seasons but the 29-year-old from Silkeborg knew it was time to make a move.
"One thing I've always liked about Columbia-HTC is you can see everybody gets a chance to win. Signing with Columbia-HTC was one opportunity I just didn't want to let go by," said Bak.
Bak's achievements against the clock feature those three national TT titles, which puts him in good company within the Columbia-HTC squad, which has boasted national time trial champions from Norway, Italy and Germany since its inception. "The best of the three victories was in 2009," said Bak. "I didn't know until 100 metres from the line that I had won. It was a very close, dramatic race, pure suffering, and then at the end I could start celebrating even before I crossed the line."
Bak's approach to riding time trials is simple but when applied to team riding should serve Columbia-HTC well throughout a season. "If you keep a steady, strong pace, and you don't go in too deep, then you're on the right track. I've got the right kind of motor for it, too: I can't accelerate fast, so don't ask me to win a sprint. I'm more a diesel engine, and once I get going I can keep going steady for miles and miles."
Fellow Dane and Columbia-HTC directeur sportif Brian Holm is impressed by Bak's team approach and explained that it's the quality which made him a target for the American team. "Lars is the kind of rider who won't win 10 races a year, but he's always there in the mix," said Holm. "Lars is a great team player. He really gets stuck into helping his teammates if he feels they've a better chance to win, and that's something we appreciate a lot in our team."