Every year during the Tour, rumors begin to fly about riders talking to other teams, teams courting certain riders and contract signings taking place. One team that is new to this scrum is the American-centred Team Slipstream, headed by former professional Jonathan Vaughters. Many of the rumors of late have involved his team which has stated all along that the goal is to make it to the ProTour by 2009, so targeting high-profile riders now makes sense. Cyclingnews' North American Editor Mark Zalewski spoke with Vaughters from his team's base in Europe about his team's future and about some recent revelations in the sport.
Four years into the project of building an American team with a core of American riders to race at the highest level of cycling, it seems that Jonathan Vaughters has the train on the right track - despite the sport doing its best to derail itself over the past few years. In 2007, his team has successfully made the transition to racing equally in North America and Europe, including securing invitations to high-level events such as the ProTour race Volta a Catalunya and the Route du Sud, in which they finished with a rider 15th overall.
The next step, it seems, is making moves to bring in the big guns for 2008, in an effort to raise the level of the team to compete on the sports biggest stage, the Tour de France. "2008 is going to be a very transitionary year, we are going to have some very high-profile riders and we are going to gun specifically for the Tour de France," said Vaughters. "We have been very careful in who we hired to make that happen and we are going to have to perform very well in a very French calendar in the early part of the season to actuate that as well."
Read the full interview here.