Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling officially launched their 2015 team at an upscale presentation held in the IAC Building located in the Meatpacking District in New York City on Wednesday. The team unveiled the newly designed black and green kit and bikes, introduced CEO of Slipstream Jonathan Vaughters and held on-stage interviews with six of the team’s riders.
The two WorldTour teams Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp announced in August that they would join forces for the 2015 season. Cannondale became the new team's title sponsor and bicycle supplier, Slipstream Sports became the team’s management company, and Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling was born.
The new team invited some 200 guests to the black-tie event that included their sponsors and stakeholders, celebrities and the press, all mingling over cocktails. The evening kicked off with an exhibit showcasing the team’s sponsored equipment and gear including Cannondale bikes and the Garmin Edge 1000 on display, along with POC helmets and glasses, Castelli clothing, Mavic wheel sets and New Balance shoes.
The purpose of the presentation was to highlight the two distinct teams’ collective motivation to join forces and create a solid working unit in 2015. “It was a very complex deal to put together,” Vaughters said on stage. “It was two separate WorldTour teams that battled head-to-head against each other on a weekly basis, two totally separate management styles, two totally separate histories, riders and nationalities.
“Meeting with Cannondale, little-by-little, we figured out that they help us with our weak spots and we can help them with their weak spots. We created an organization that is much bigger and much better, and more professional.”
The team announced a 27-man roster in November, keeping Garmin’s former Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal, Il Lombardia winner Dan Martin, Critérium du Dauphiné winner Andrew Talansky and Tom Danielson. Cannondale kept Ted King, Kristjian Koren, Matej Mohoric, Alan Marangoni, Davide Formolo and Moreno Moser.
The remainder of the roster included a mix of returning riders and some new signings; Janier Acevedo, Jack Bauer, Alberto Bettiol, Nathan Brown, André Cardoso, Joe Dombrowski, Nathan Haas, Lasse Hansen, Alex Howes, Ben King, Sebastian Langeveld, Ramunas Navardauskas, Kristoffer Skjerping, Tom Jelte Slagter, Dylan Van Baarle, Davide Villella and Ruben Zepuntke.
Guests at the presentation were treated to a video showing the riders unite for a week-long sailing excursion at a team training camp in the British Virgin Islands. Vaughters said that teaching the riders to sail was an important way for them to learn communication skills that would later allow them to function together during races.
“We have such an international group of guys now, from very different cultures,” Vaughters said. “You have the Italian cycling culture, which is 150 years old and very traditional, and the American aspect, which is very much innovation based. Those two cultures needed to learn there own language.
“We took them out into the ocean for a week and had them learn how to sail and then race. They were going to have to learn how to communicate or they were going to flip the boats over, or be dead in the water or get their butts kicked by the other boats. The competitiveness of sailing was going to force them to communicate. When you don’t know what you're doing, you need the other four guys on the boat to help it go forward. They had to learn how to communicate.”
Vaughters is proud of the fact that Cannondale-Garmin has the youngest roster on the WorldTour, which reminds him of the junior development squad 5280-Subaru that he started back in 2003. “It was a six-rider team and three of them made it into the WorldTour. Our foundation was in developing young riders and we are going forward with that, to keep developing riders.”
Vaughters reminded the audience of the team’s dedication to hard-work and racing clean, a moral message that he has promoted since the start his program more than 10 years ago.
“The ethos, which is the grounding point for this team, is that we never want to see any of these young guys ever have to go through the doping issues that I had to go through in my era,” he said. “It was something that, from the inception, from the minute I met Doug [Ellis] years ago, I said this is fundamental, winning races is incredible and fun, but this is the first thing. That’s the foundation.”
Following Vaughters’ speech, six of the team’s riders including Martin, Formolo, Talansky, Ben King, Ted King and Dombrowski, walked on stage wearing the new team kit for the first time in public. Not every rider was able to attend the stateside presentation due to conflicts with the upcoming road racing season.
The team’s jersey is almost all black but combines Cannondale’s traditional green highlights and a more subdued version of Garmin’s argyle print. The three Cannondale bikes that the team will race on are the SuperSix Hi-Mod, Synapse Hi-Mod and the Slice RS, all painted in variant designs that keep with the team’s black and green palette.
One-by-one the riders answered questions from the event’s host Don Wildman, who is the current host and narrator of Off Limits, Mysteries at the Museum and Monumental Mysteries. Martin finished the 2014 season in ninth overall in the UCI WorldTour standings and spoke about his finale win at Il Lombardia in October.
“It was fantastic to finish off the year with such a high, especially with a change of atmosphere in the off season, and we are going into the new year on such a high note,” Martin said.
Formolo had some success in his first year on the WorldTour in 2014 with podium places at the GP Industria & Artigianato di Larciano and the Italian National Championships along with a fourth overall at the Tour of Turkey, and seventh places overall at the Japan Cup, Tour de Suisse and Tour de Taiwan. “I want to continue to improve in the GC,” Formolo said. “I want to continue to be better every year.”
Talansky took the biggest win of his career at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June, however, he was forced to abandoned the Tour de France in July because of a back injury after crashing multiple times. He commented on the importance of being a team role model for the younger riders during both the high and the low points of the season.
“It was an interesting transition, when I came to this team there were riders to look up to as role models and now it’s myself and Ryder [Hesjedal] transitioning into that role for others.”
When asked what his goals were for the 2015 season with Cannondale-Garmin, he said. “The goal is always to be better than the year before. I think the bar has been set a little higher after the Dauphiné last year … but I definitely have some unfinished business at the Tour.”
To view the gallery from the Cannondale-Garmin team launch please click here.