Bob Stapleton is a new face to the ProTour, and he is bringing his uniquely American style to the European peloton. He spouts the American business lingo of pragmatism, team philosophy, the importance of teamwork and the team environment, the role of communication, and the necessity of international diversity. In a wide-ranging conversation with Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer, he also explains what his role will be for the T-Mobile Team during the races.
Will he ride in the team car at races? "I might sit in the second car and hand out water bottles. That's about all I'm qualified to do." That's his modesty speaking. He comes to the peloton with an entrepreneurial background rather than a sporting one - but then, he's the team's general manager, and not its sports manager. He was co-founder, president and CEO of VoiceStream Wireless, which became T-Mobile USA, and he is on the T-Mobile International board of directors. A passionate cyclist himself, he has been able to take advantage of his financial independence and last year served as the T-Mobile women's team manager. He served as an advisor to the men's team, and when the sponsor decided that a change in management was needed, he was the man on the spot.
After being offered the opportunity to take over the team, he set straight to work. "I think we did eight months of work in two. It's been an enormous amount of work. We drove all over Europe, we flew all over Europe. We talked to over 100 athletes. We made offers to 50 to 60 of them. It's quite a process." What was he looking for in these athletes? "Well, the first thing is that we have to have a clean sport. That's a fundamental requirement, so we were very up front about that. And I think there was a very high degree of self-selection. Either the athletes say, yeah, I want to be a part of this or they say, thank you very much but I'm more interested in another team."
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