By Sue George
Team Slipstream is aiming to be a bigger player in the European road scene in 2008. After team director Jonathan Vaughters confirmed yesterday the signing of Saunier Duval's David Millar and two Team CSC stars Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie, he revealed today that the team has also signed a former winner of Paris-Roubaix.
Vaughters would not be drawn to comment on who the latest signing is, but the list of non-retired recent winners is short, namely: Stuart O'Grady (2007), Fabian Cancellara (2006), Tom Boonen (2005), Magnus Backstedt (2004), Peter Van Petegem (2003), and Frederic Guesdon (1997).
"Our singular goal is to do the Tour de France, but we also signed a former Paris Robuaix winner, so that will be a big objective for us, too," Vaughters told Cyclingnews, not revealing the identity of the rider. "We'll be doing the Tour of California and other major US races, too."
Vaughters also addressed the signing of Millar, Vande Velde, and Zabriskie, which was announced to an exclusive group of individuals in France following Sunday's final stage of the Tour de France. "All three signed two-year contracts with the team," he said. "They are the first three of the news guys we're bringing onto the team."
None of the trio have been signed as a squad's leader, but their experience will play an important role in the team. "We're not the kind of team that's going to have a big solid GC leader," said Vaughters. "That's not going to be the style of the team. But those guys will be the leaders in spirit. They'll be the guys who are captains on the road and will help our young guys get to the next level."
Vaughters also confirmed he has talked to the retiring Axel Merckx of Team T-Mobile. "I'm certainly interested in him, but Axel wants to live in Canada, not in Europe, so we're trying to figure out if something can work," he noted. "We've had a preliminary conversation, but we're a long way from a signing with him."