By Laura Weislo
The Garmin-Slipstream team has made no secret of the fact that they are gunning to win the opening team time trials of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France this year, but its dress rehearsal at the Tour Méditerranéen on Wednesday did not go to plan. Team manager Jonathan Vaughters was disappointed that the team lost by three seconds to Caisse d'Epargne over 25 kilometres.
"We managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory," Vaughters lamented to Cyclingnews. The team suffered several mishaps which contributed to the loss, but Vaughters was unsympathetic. "It's inexcusable. Sure, it proves that we're strong, but it also proves that even if you're the strongest you can still lose if you don't get the details down."
The squad's first issue cropped up when Mike Friedman decided to change saddles the day before the race, Vaughters explained. Unfortunately, when he put the new seat on his time trial bike, it was too far forward and would not pass the UCI's rules, and the rails were too short to move it back enough to meet the regulations. This meant his only choice was to start the race on his road bike. Without aerodynamic equipment, Friedman was dropped from the team and finished 1:59 down.
The second disaster occurred when Ryder Hesjedal pulled his rear wheel out of the dropouts at the start. He also finished 1:59 down.
"Added to that, Jason Donald was on a horrible day, so we were basically down to five riders after the first kilometre. When you start a time trial like that, everyone panics," said Vaughters.
"It was sad, but everyone learned their lessons. We'll be much more thorough next time. We were just a little lax, maybe over confident, and we paid the price for it."
The next team time trial is the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia - a 20.5-kilometre test in Venezia. Last year Christian Vande Velde took the first pink jersey when the team bested Teams CSC to win the 23.5km race in Sicily.
Garmin's second appointment will be the Tour de France opening stage - a technical 15km route in Monaco.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Tour Méditerranéen.