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Stapleton says Armstrong's comeback good for cycling

By:
Cycling News
Published:
December 25, 2009, 10:48 GMT,
Updated:
December 25, 2009, 10:49 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Friday, December 25, 2009
Columbia team manager Bob Stapleton talks while his team rides the Giro d'Italia TTT.

Columbia team manager Bob Stapleton talks while his team rides the Giro d'Italia TTT.

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Columbia boss sees Armstrong “passing the mantle” to Cavendish

Lance Armstrong’s return to professional cycling has been praised by Team Columbia-HTC owner Bob Stapleton. In an interview with CNN, the team boss also said that Armstrong was ‘passing the mantle’ to Columbia sprinter, Mark Cavendish.

"I think it is very interesting that the biggest name in the sport is embracing, and indeed passing the mantle, to the second biggest name in the sport. From Lance to Mark."

Armstrong announced his return to professional cycling at a press conference in September 2008 and raced against a professional road field for the first time at the Tour Down Under in January 2009. Since then he has raced the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and set up his own team - RadioShack – for the start of the 2010 season.

"Lance's return has brought lots of publicity back to the sport and taken it back onto the world stage," Stapleton told CNN.

"It wasn't just Lance's comeback, but the way he raced that was so amazing. Viewing figures for the Tour de France went up 40 per cent in the States this year and brought cycling to the attention of the world's media, peaking at the Tour.”

Stapleton believes that this allowed his and other teams to tap into a Lance-effect and generate their own headlines in front of the world media whenever they were successful. During this year’s Tour de France Columbia won six stages through Cavendish and just missed out on the green jersey. Tony Martin, another young talent, held the white jersey as best young rider for several days.

"Mark won multiple stages at both the Giro and the Tour, both races that Lance was riding in. And, because the spotlight was shining on cycling, it gave all the other teams an ideal opportunity to showcase their qualities. Hopefully it will all happen again in 2010!"

In 2009 the team won 86 races throughout the season with Cavendish taking 23, Andre Greipel 20, and the team won 17 Grand Tour stages and several high-profile one-days races like Milano-Sanremo and Ghent-Wevelgem.

Stapleton, aware of Cavendish’s growing stature in the sport, also drew comparisons between his sprinter and Armstrong. "There are many similarities between the two, both in their attitude and the way they look at themselves. Both are very confident and highly capable, but also very, very self aware.

"I think it is very interesting that the biggest name in the sport is embracing, and indeed passing the mantle, to the second biggest name in the sport. From Lance to Mark."

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