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The man with the Midas touch

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The Columbia boys after a successful day's work.

The Columbia boys after a successful day's work. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) wins the final stage of the Tour de France.

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) wins the final stage of the Tour de France. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC)

Tony Martin (Columbia-HTC) (Image credit: www.ispaphoto.com)
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The Columbia-HTC team celebrates

The Columbia-HTC team celebrates (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) was unbeatable in Missouri

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) was unbeatable in Missouri (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us)
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As ever, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - HTC) was subdued in his celebrations.

As ever, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Columbia - HTC) was subdued in his celebrations. (Image credit: Gerry McManus)
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Columbia-HTC team principal Bob Stapleton

Columbia-HTC team principal Bob Stapleton (Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)

It’s a sunny Californian morning and Bob Stapleton sips his coffee as he flicks through the morning press. On his desk sits a post-it note with the words ‘call cyclingnews’ penned across it. With the coffee dispatched and a quick scan of the website he’s about to contact complete, he picks up the phone and dials the UK office. He can relax, smile even. This will be a doddle. After a long, hard season he’s at home, surrounded by enough magazine clippings and press releases to keep his sponsors happy for another year. Clouds on the horizon? Not today. It’s all blue skies in the US’s sunshine state. The ringing stops.

Like any team or business for that matter, some will be missed more than others. In particular, Boasson Hagen, who many believe has the potential to win anything he wants in the sport, will leave a considerable gap. "He was a rider we had tremendous pride in," Stapleton says. "He wasn’t just a very good young talent, but a hallmark of the team strategy of finding and support young talent. We definitely will miss him. Otherwise, we basically traded for some very promising riders for the longer term.

"There are five neo-pros but there are also five talented riders coming from other teams. The Velits brothers will step up dramatically here after coming from Milram. Matt Goss, Lars Bak will do very well here and so will Hayden Roulston, who joins from Cervelo." Between them, they've won a total of seven races in 2009 and rode in the Grand Tours. A far cry from the 16 wins Boasson Hagen supplied to the team’s total of 86 wins for the year.

 

Stapleton clearly believes that with Cavendish and Greipel he has the basic formula for success. With the Tour of California and Giro clashing there’s also the opportunity to distribute responsibility between the two highly competitive riders without causing friction, an element that had dogged the two riders in the past. "If André continues to grow then he could be a challenge for the team, but I think we have more than enough opportunities for guys to grow. One interesting thing is going to be the Worlds next year. You could see the two key rivals being otherwise teammates and both supported by good squads."

 

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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.