Columbia selects Tour nine

Cavendish leads USA team in sprints

USA's Team Columbia-HTC, formerly Team Columbia-Highroad, named its nine-rider roster Monday for the Tour de France, July 4 to 26.

Brit Mark Cavendish will rely on Australian Mark Renshaw, Austrian Bernhard Eisel and USA's George Hincapie, starting his 14th Tour, for sprint lead-outs. Cavendish won four stages at the 2008 Tour de France and three at the Giro d'Italia last month.

"We want him [Cavendish] to focus on winning stages, if that leads to the green then great but there's no pressure on him to win the green jersey," said Bob Stapleton, Team Columbia-HTC owner. "Our main goal is to continue the success the team has enjoyed over this season."

Luxemburger Kim Kirchen, Australian Michael Rogers and Belgian Maxime Monfort will lead the ProTour squad's general classification hopes.

Germans Bert Grabsch, world and German time trial champion, and Tony Martin round out the team.

Commenting on notable omissions from the team, such as Germans André Greipel and 2008 Tour stage winner Marcus Burghardt, Stapleton said, "We had so many guys who could have worked their way onto the team, it was a very difficult decision for the sporting management."

The HTC Corporation, a mobile phone company, has been named as the team's new co-sponsor.

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