What was the first half of the 2008 season like for the 18 ProTour teams? Who can be satisfied with their performance and who needs improvement? Or, as the Cyclingnews staff asked, 'What went right and what went wrong?'
Here is part one of a team-by-team analysis of the first half of the year. The teams are listed in no particular order.
Team High Road
By Susan Westemeyer
What went right: Just about everything. The team has won races over the entire first half of the season, from the Tour Down Under, dominated by André Greipel, to Kim Kirchen's victory in the Flèche Wallonne, to four Giro d'Italia stage wins to George Hincapie's stage win in the Dauphiné Libéré. Kirchen also won a stage in the Tour de Suisse and wore the leader's jersey for two days. The team has won sprints, time trials and breakaways, with 10 different riders accounting for the wins. And a big plus for the team was the recent announcement of a new sponsor, Columbia, as of the Tour de France.
What went wrong: Injuries have struck three of the team's main riders. Marcus Burghardt was supposed to lead the team in the Spring Classics, but knee problems and subsequent surgery eliminated him. The two Tour de France captains will also be missing this year. Linus Gerdemann is still recovering from broken bones and torn knee ligaments suffered in a crash in Tirreno-Adriatico, and Michael Rogers is not yet back in form after a bout with Epstein-Barr virus.
Holding out for: It is hard to see what the team needs to work on, although it has deficiencies in the mountains. Young German sprinter Gerald Ciolek is not bringing in the wins as expected. Without Burghardt, the team showed weaknesses in the Spring Classics, saved only by Kirchen. The youngsters are doing well, but simply need more time and experience.
Overall: Team Manager Bob Stapleton can be happy with his team. The team is showing success across the board, and the youngsters, although sometimes inconsistent, are bringing in first places. 23 year-old Manxman Mark Cavendish has seven wins, including two Giro d'Italia stages. Of the 10 riders with victories so far, seven of them are 25 or younger, with Edvald Boasson Hagen and Ciolek, both only 21, each having two wins.
Read the Cyclingnews analysis on other teams.