By Shane Stokes in Stuttgart
The T-Mobile team was completely restructured this season but nevertheless had a very successful time, taking 35 wins and placing in the top four in terms of the number of victories by ProTour teams. On Thursday the roster was announced for the 2008 season and general manager Bob Stapleton said that he was optimistic that the magenta squad could continue to build its strength.
"We made some big changes this year and for next year will have even more," he said. "We have got ten new riders coming in this year and I really look forward to them adding to the success the team has had this season."
As reported earlier on Cyclingnews, the new riders are Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Maxbo Bianchi), John Devine and George Hincapie of Discovery Channel, Craig Lewis (Team Slipstream), Thomas Lövkvist (Française Des Jeux), Tony Martin (Energie Thüringer), Morris Possoni (Lampre-Fondital), Vicente Reynes (Caisse d'Epargne), Kanstantsin Siutsou (Barloworld) and Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis).
"As you know, the sport has lost a focus on results and racing and athletics, but if you look at the results our team has got this year, it has really exceeded our expectations," said Stapleton. "We had great success through good team-work, with a good group of guys working really well together. Our young talent was particularly successful this season. We won 35 races, with twelve different guys taking victories. I am very proud of the results of the team. I am very optimistic about 2008."
The T-Mobile squad has a very strict anti-doping policy and all the new riders will have been left under no doubts as to the seriousness of this. Riders are required to sign a strict ethics code and to undergo regular testing, which will be ramped up again in 2008 thanks to a €1 million anti-doping budget.
As part of their wish to build towards a cleaner future for the sport, the squad is made up largely of young riders. These will be guided by more experiences professionals. "The roster next year will be quite a young team, maybe the youngest team in the ProTour. We will have twelve riders who are 25 or younger and we have also got guys like Kim Kirchen who, at 29, is one of our aged veterans!
"I think the key to really developing this young talent is not only a good environment with good tools and support, but also having good, experienced leadership in the races and team-mates that the they can be inspired and learn from on how to be a professional. How to survive a difficult sport, a long season, how to stay healthy and most important, how to win races on the bike.
"As you know a lot of key decisions are made in the race and we are very happy to welcome George [Hincapie] and Bradley [Wiggins] to our experienced core."
Stapleton said that this year saw a very strong example of how this kind of guidance can work out. "We have seen this kind of mentoring and leadership with Roger [Hammond] and Mark [Cavendish]. That is probably one of our finest examples. Roger's work was key to a number of the team's victories this season, so we really look to create that situation again next season. We have maybe the top young international talent in the sport and some really good leadership and good team-mates to model behaviour around."