By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile has introduced its team for the 2008 season, presenting ten new faces, with 12 riders leaving (or having already left). Most of the new signees are young, with the 2008 team boasting 12 out of 27 riders under the age of 25. The two biggest name newcomers, George Hincapie and Bradley Wiggins, are over that age, however.
It had been rumoured that Erik Zabel would leave Team Milram and re-join his old team, but he still has another year to go on his contract with Milram. T-Mobile has not given up hope, though. "If he could clear up his contract situation, then we would be glad to have him. He would fit in our team," Team Manager Bob Stapleton told the dpa press agency.
"We want to be a clean and successful team," Stapleton said on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com. "In order to reach this goal, we have put together a team of top young talents and proven veterans."
The newcomers are Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Maxbo Bianchi), John Devine and Hincapie of Discovery Channel, Hincapie's fellow Greenville, South Carolina resident 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 Wiggins (Cofidis).
"We especially looked for new athletes who share our commitment to a fair and clean sport. Riders, who have the necessary qualities and who are willing to put the team's success ahead of their own," Stapleton said.
Hincapie, 34, rode for US Postal/Discovery Channel for ten years. The American rode all seven Tours de France won by his team-mate Lance Armstrong. He won a stage in the 2005 Tour, and most recently captured the first Tour of Missouri. He is a Classics specialist who says that his favourite race is Paris-Roubaix. Hincapie won the US national championship in 2006, Gent-Wevelgem in 2001, and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne in 2005. He has also participated in every Olympics since 1992,
Wiggins, 27, was born in Gent, Belgium, but grew up in London. He quickly followed in the footsteps of his father, also a professional cyclist. The Briton turned pro with the Linda McCartney team in 2001, and subsequently rode two years each with Française Des Jeux, Crédit Agricole and Cofidis. On the road, he is a time trial specialist, who this season took the prologue in the Dauphiné Libéré and time trials in the Four Days of Dunkirk and the the Tour du Poitou-Charantes et de la Vienne. He is even more successful on the track, where he has won four Olympic medals, including gold in the 4000-metre individual pursuit in 2004, and he is the current track world champion in both, the 4000-metre individual and team pursuit.
A number of riders will also be leaving. Giuseppe Guerini and Axel Merckx have announced their retirement at the end of this year. Lorenzo Bernucci, Sergey Honchar and Patrik Sinkewitz were fired during the season. Not listed on the roster released today were Eric Baumann, André Korff, Aaron Olson, Jakob Piil, Frantisek Rabon, Stephan Schreck and Thomas Ziegler. However, Sport Director Rolf Aldag said that there may still be new signings as well as contract extensions with existing riders.
The complete T-Mobile roster for 2008 consist of Michael Barry, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Marcus Burghardt, Mark Cavendish, Gerald Ciolek, Scott Davis, John Devine, Bernhard Eisel, Linus Gerdemann, Bert Grabsch, Andre Greipel, Roger Hammond, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, George Hincapie, Kim Kirchen, Andreas Klier, Servais Knaven, Craig Lewis, Thomas Lövkvist, Tony Martin, Marco Pinotti, Morris Possoni, Vicente Reynes, Michael Rogers, Kanstantsin Siutsou and Bradley Wiggins.