The 2008 Slipstream-Chipotle team will be unlike any previous year's team in that half of the riders are new, coming from the elite ranks of the European peloton. The other half is made up from a different kind of veteran – ones that have been with the outfit from its U23 developmental ranks. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski sat down with one from each background, as well as roommates for the week, during the team's first camp in Boulder, Colorado.
If one were to identify a priority mission for the Slipstream team launch camp in Boulder, it would be team unity. With half the roster replaced with what could easily be described as 'ringers,' the possibility of animosity and division setting in before one pedal crank was turned was a dangerous threat to the team. It is certainly not because any one rider was hoping this would happen, but simple human nature and heaps of academic research into organizational behavior spell it out.
Because of this reality, Jonathan Vaughters and his crack staff set out to create an atmosphere to quash any notion of a divided team. One way of doing this was pairing a veteran Slipstream rider with a veteran Euro rider – and like the Odd Couple, hilarity often ensued. But something else also occurred, the start of core relationships that would go a long way to making the team one whole unit.
I spoke with two roommates, Julian Dean and Timmy Duggan about their reactions to the camp a few days in and what they hope the upcoming season has in store.
Julian Dean comes to Slipstream from Crédit Agricole, one of the long-running, successful teams of Roger Legeay – and a program that runs in a complete opposite tone to Slipstream. "A team like Crédit Agricole, with Roger Legeay who has been directing a team for like 20 years, and he has a very exact, sterile formula that works well," said Dean. "The team runs well, and it's all business. But this is certainly a different method from that."
New team-mate David Millar recognized the effect this new tone was having on Dean, saying the camp was the rare moment he actually saw the Kiwi crack a smile. Upon hearing this Dean smiled again and laughed, before pointing out another key difference of this team compared to others. "I think the primary reason is because we are in an environment where we are speaking our mother tongue. You can't express yourself as quickly or as well in another language as you can in your native one."
"For that reason we are having a lot of laughs... and some beers!" Dean continued. "The time of year is good too, November. The next time we get together we will be more serious. But we are creating some stories now that will carry us when it is pissing down rain in Belgium."