Jonathan Vaughters' EF Pro Cycling team is now well-established among the hierarchy of the sport's WorldTour squads, boasting the likes of Rigoberto Uran, Michael Woods and Alberto Bettiol, as well as current US road race champion Alex Howes.
Howes is the only member still left from the team's 2007 incarnation as Pro Continental squad Team Slipstream, when the team stepped up from its previous guise as TIAA-CREF and began to make its move towards the WorldTour, making the juncture in 2009 as Garmin-Slipstream.
Here, having tracked down as many of the members of the 2007 squad as possible, we tell their story.
Butterfield only had one season on the team and, by his own admission, he was "never going to make it as a pro bike racer", but the rider from Bermuda was nothing if not determined to make the most of his talents. His path to Slipstream is worthy of its own story, but to summarise: Butterfield was a triathlete working in a bike shop in Bermuda when Philippe Mauduit – now a sports director at Groupama-FDJ – walked in.
After getting to know each other, Mauduit managed find a spot for Butterfield on the amateur French team Vendée U for 2005 and, within a few weeks it was full steam ahead. Butterfield returned in 2006 and impressed in a number of races that Slipstream head Jonathan Vaughters had raced during his amateur days but, through another stroke of luck, the American team boss would fish in Bermuda and, via a mutual friend, Butterfield wrote to Vaughters and was given a one-way ticket to Girona, Spain, for the 2007 season.
"My numbers were never going to make it," Butterfield told us.
To compound matters, Butterfield's season in Europe was plagued by bad luck. He had Giardia – a bowel infection – and got hit by a car in Switzerland, and unsurprisingly wasn't re-signed in 2008.
"I can handle that, though. I couldn't survive in the pack anyway. My numbers weren't high enough, whereas in amateur racing, you can get by through racing with your head."
After his one-year deal expired, Butterfield returned to triathlon and competed in two Olympics, and a Commonwealth Games. He has raced Ironman, and is still competing at the age of 37. He resides in Colorado with his wife, Niki, a fellow triathlete, and their four young children. He almost stopped triathlon at the end of 2019, but is giving it one last effort this year.
Currently living in Providence, Caldwell stopped racing in 2009 after breaking his femur in a crash. The unusual nature of the fracture led to a bone-density test, and Caldwell was sadly diagnosed with osteoporosis. He hung up his wheels, but maintained fitness through triathlon.
After retiring, he studied computer science in Colorado before finishing his undergraduate classes in 2011. He then took up a post at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. He followed that with a PhD in Colorado in 2014 and, in the last year, Caldwell has been accepted into medical school and is going to start in August.
The softly spoken 2005 under-23 US time trial champion joined Slipstream in 2006. He could hold his own in the Belgian Classics and week-long stage races, but, by the end of 2010, the squad had established itself at WorldTour level, and Cozza needed to find another squad.
He landed at NetApp at the start of 2011, but health problems wrecked his first year with the team and, by February of the following year, the American called time on his career due to colitis. At the time there was hope that Cozza would return to the sport, but his life since then has taken a different path, and he now runs a real estate agency in California. He also gives back to the community, and has set up several charitable organisations over the years, including the Sonoma County Kids Gran Fondo.
After two years on Lance Armstrong's US Postal and Discovery teams, Creed returned to the US and signed for Team TIAA-CREFF – the precursor to Slipstream – in 2006. Vaughters and Creed had raced as teammates at Prime Alliance in 2003 after former Crédit Agricole rider Vaughters had returned from Europe, and the pair reunited for another two years as boss and rider until Creed moved to Rock Racing at the start of 2008.
Creed eventually retired in 2013, having surfed the domestic scene until finding stability at Jonas Carney's Kelly Benefits team. Since retiring, Creed has made a hugely successful transition into team management. He previously took up a role at USA Cycling, but in the last few years has created one of the leading U23 programmes at Aevelo Cycling.
Creed has endured some tough personal moments over the last few years, but he's come through those times, and lives just outside Colorado Springs with his wife, Caitlin, and dog, Charly, who he named after former British pro Charly Wegelius – who's now a sports director at Vaughters' EF Pro Cycling team.
Creed's latest hobby involves taking part in long-distance running events under a fake name. He's good, and won his first race earlier this year.
"Why are you doing this?" were Donald's first words when we called him and told him we were writing this piece. We weren't too sure, either, but the American enjoyed reminiscing about the past all the same.
"Right after I retired, I started working for Skratch Labs, which is run by Allen Lim and Ian MacGregor. Ian rode for Slipstream for two years, and they were my good friends and let me come work with them," Donald told us. "I stayed with them for five years, running their athlete programme, before I moved out to Montana. My wife and I couldn't buy a place in Denver, and she's in government finance and was recruited to Bozeman."
The Donalds have been in Montana ever since, and Jason works as the service manager at one of the most prominent bike shops in town called Owenhouse Cycling. The shop put him through mechanic school, and he runs the repair business full time. He's also a ski instructor.
Donald's career was relatively short but he packed a lot into a few short years. The most memorable moment came in 2007, when he finished second in his very first pro race in the prologue at the Tour of California.
"I was the seventh rider to start that day and Levi Leipheimer went last. He was the only guy that beat me, but I was scared shitless the entire day because I had no idea what I was doing. I was winning this race, and someone on the team was making video footage, and they followed me to the bathroom. I was totally freaking out. But that race defined my short career. The races were so difficult, but I wouldn't trade those times."
One of the TIAA-CREF alumni, former national road-race champion Duggan joined the organisation at a young age and produced a number of impressive results at U23 level. He formed part of the early years of the Garmin squad and came second on a stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2009 after being in a move with eventual winner Stef Clement. However, he left the organisation in 2011 for Liquigas and won the US road title in 2012 before moving to Saxo Bank at the start of 2013.
Unfortunately, it proved to be the final year of his career. He broke a leg at that year's Tour Down Under, and although he made a speedy recovery, the team negotiations surrounding Oleg Tinkov put talks over contract extensions on hold. Duggan did have the option to return to Liquigas, but he decided to bow out on his terms and take up a career in residential real estate. He used 2014 to go back to school, and has been based in Nederland, Colorado, ever since.
"It was the business that I grew up with in my family, and it was always what I wanted to do post-cycling," he told Cyclingnews.
Duggan, now 37, skis religiously from November through to May, and then turns to his mountain bike during the summer as he makes use of the amazing trails around his home. He still keeps his ear to the ground, and is on the USA Cycling selection committee for the Olympics and the World Championships, and he lives close to Alex Howes and Ian MacGregor – two other riders on this list.
"I loved my time on the team," Duggan told us. "I still have friends from back then, and I still see the team as a family."
Duijn had the option of remaining at Rabobank for 2007, but after reading online that Slipstream were going Pro Continental, he forwarded the article to his agent at SEG Cycling and instructed him to prepare negotiations. The agent got in touch with former Dutch pro Danny Nelissen, who had been trained by Vaughters' old coach, Adrie van Diemen. A contract was signed, but Huub admitted to Cyclingnews that he didn't make the most of his chance on the 'Argyle Armada'. To be fair, luck played a part, with a virus skuppering his first year and then artery surgery required a year later.
"I had some bad luck, but I was also young," he said. "I'm a different person to the one that I am now, but I wasn't really an adult back then."
Despite the setbacks, Huub went on to have a long career in the Continental and Pro Continental ranks, and only hung up his wheels at the end of 2019 at the age of 35. Since stopping, Huub has found a new life at the Watersley Sports and Talentpark in Holland, where he is the talent scout for the U23 women's cycling team.
After spending three years in his native California for work, Euser is now back in Boulder and forms part of the marketing team for Clif Bar, having moved back last year. He came through the ranks with the Webcor team in 2005 before switching to TIAA-CREF for the following year. He was a promising climber and finished inside the top 10 at the Tour de Langkawi in 2009, but he was hit by a car in May of that year while training in Girona, and spent the rest of the year in recovery. He wasn't offered a contract extension, and signed for Canadian squad SpiderTech, before moving to United Healthcare for the final three years of his career.
"Vaughters always liked the diamond in the rough, and he was always chasing that one person that was going to make all the effort worth it," Euser told us.
"He loved spotting talent and he had to burn through a lot of us to find those gems. That's not his fault; he just loved the underdog. But I know that if I had been born in Belgium, I wouldn't have been a pro rider. Slipstream came along and wanted to create a barrier between the old and new world of cycling. They deserve credit for that."
Euser retired from competition in 2015, but still rides for pleasure, and can sometimes be seen out on his gravel bike.
Friedman was one of the most popular riders on the team, and an individual whose post-racing career has left a lasting impression. Friedman came to Slipstream in 2006 when they raced as TIAA-CREF, and formed part of the Classics team that competed in 2008 and 2009. He raced the Olympics on the track, but when the team beefed up their roster, he was let go.
Friedman made a career out of racing domestically for a number of years before stopping in 2014, but his initiative that helps children ride safely and responsibly – Pedaling Minds – has created a legacy that few ex-pros can match.
He also dabbles in art, and currently resides in Colorado with his old but awesome dog, Walt. For more on Friedman, read our exclusive interview from late 2018.
Now running a successful food business in Boulder, Colorado, Frischkorn was already in his mid-20s when Slipstream moved into the big leagues in 2008, and he competed in their first Tour de France.
He came agonisingly close to winning a stage into Nantes, but was forced to settle for second place behind Sam Dumoulin. A year later, and as the team improved and the WorldTour demands grew, Frischkorn decided to cash in his chips and start a new chapter of his life alongside his wife, and the pair have been running gourmet café Cured ever since.
Last man standing. Howes has been part of the Slipstream organisation since the very beginning and, but for a sabbatical at VC La Pomme Marseille in 2008, the Colorado resident has been ever-present in Vaughters' teams.
Over the years, Howes has developed into one of the most respected domestiques in the bunch and continues to ride at the highest level, winning the elite US national road title last year.
Huff, who deserves a feature in his own right on Cyclingnews, became one of the 'semi-originals' when he joined the organisation in 2006. He started riding a Huffy mountain bike at high school, and his love for cycling grew from there.
When we caught up with Huff, now 41, he said: "In 2006, that's when Slipstream went from being a true development squad to something bigger, with the signings of guys like Danny Pate and Mike Creed.
"We were just a band of knuckleheads, having a great time and pedalling our bikes all over the world. Some were really experienced, but some of us were still so new. They were my first two years as a professional."
Huff was a latecomer to the pro ranks, joining the team at 26. He had been a promising junior, but he had to back off and battle an eating disorder. He came back and won the US criterium championships in his first season at Slipstream in 2006, but the race was actually 'won' by Australian Hilton Clarke, with non-domestic riders allowed to take part back then. Huff crossed the line second, but would go on to win the title again a full 10 years later in 2016 – this time crossing the line first.
He would leave the team at the end of 2007 as they expanded into Europe, but would maintain a high level of racing in the US for Jelly Belly, Optum and Rally.
Since retiring at the end of 2018, Huff has moved into the world of marketing at Amp Human, who were one of the Rally sponsors during the end of Huff's career. His path into that profession involves former Broncos and Seahawks centre Jeff Byers, the Amp Human CEO. They became friends, and Huff saw the value in pursuing a career in which his hard work ethic and personality could play a part.
"I was really lucky in that I wasn't introverted like most pro athletes," he explained.
The late Steve Tilford shared this video interview with Huff, in which he explains why he raced clean. Huff also recorded an excellent podcast with Michael Creed in 2013, and it's well worth a listen.
Johnson had already raced in Europe as part of the Agritubel team in 2005 and 2006 before joining Vaughters' team. French journalist Jean-François Quénet and pro rider David Millar helped the Australian establish himself in France, first at Charvieu-Chavagneux, just outside Lyon, and then at David Fornes' team. He was originally meant to ride at Cofidis, but that deal never materialized, and his two seasons in France failed to yield a return. But things began to take shape when Slipstream put the call out for European experience, and Millar stepped forward and recommended Johnson.
The Australian had talent but he wasn't at the level required, and left the team at the end of the season. He raced in Australia for another season but stopped high-end racing at the end of 2008. There was a comeback in 2014 with Drapac, thanks to Henk Vogels, but Johnson hung up his wheels for good at the end of the season. We couldn't track him down, but Johnson is back in Noosa, Australia, and working at the well-established bike shop that his family have run for over 30 years.
Lange was another of the TIAA-CREF batch, and had some promising results through the junior and U23 levels. Like a number of the riders on this list, however, he wasn't retained at the end of the year, and signed for Jelly Belly at the start of 2008.
His year and career effectively ended that summer when he returned a positive test for Strychnine at the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China. USADA handed out a two-year ban for the rider from Golden, Colorado, and he left racing.
Lange is still close with Ian MacGregor, according to riders from the team, but we were unable to track him down for the purpose of this piece. One ex-teammate told us that he held down a job in construction.
Lewis, originally from Georgia, was good – really good – and was another one of the young riders who joined the team during its development phase at TIAA-CREFF. Despite a near-fatal crash in 2004 that left him with both lungs punctured and multiple fractures, Vaughters showed faith in the then 19-year-old and gave him a spot on his team for the next couple of years.
A strong all-rounder, Lewis finished seventh at the Tour de l'Avenir that was won by Bauke Mollema in 2007, and was snapped up by Bob Stapleton's Columbia team at the start of the following year. Over the next few years, Lewis developed into a solid domestique, but at the 2011 Giro d'Italia, he crashed alongside teammate Marco Pinotti and broke his left femur and several ribs. Five sessions of surgery would follow, but Lewis miraculously came back before the end of the year.
However, the injuries sustained were the beginning of the end for the American. Stapleton failed to find a new sponsor at the end of 2011, and Lewis, who had interest from Sky and BMC before his crash, was forced to drop down a level and sign a two-year deal at Champion System. At the end of 2013, there was hope that Lampre – who took on Champion System as a sponsor – would offer him a way back into the WorldTour. But the Italian team instead decided to move for Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner and, with no other options, Lewis was forced to leave the sport at 29.
Lewis now resides in, you guessed it, Boulder, Colorado, and runs a successful and highly respected wine distributor called Stelvio Selections. He's a regular runner, but still finds time to ride his bike. As he moved out of cycling, the business grew, and Lewis regularly ventures to Europe for work. He has also taken part in cycling training camps alongside Christian Vande Velde.
"I already knew that 2014 would have been my final year, even if I had a contract. I had already started the business. I saw that after the Giro accident, when I was 27, a lot of leads disappeared. I knew that people wouldn't look at me the same," he told Cyclingnews in an as-yet unpublished interview from 2018.
"The injuries I had at 19 were far worse, but they were at a point in my career when I could change my path. When I crashed at the Giro, my career was being defined at that moment."
MacGregor won back-to-back US national U23 road titles in 2004 and 2005, but wasn't retained at the end of 2007. He made his way to Team Type 1 where he raced for two seasons, before winding down his short pro career at Kelly Benefits. Since retirement, MacGregor has kicked on in a number of different ways. He set up - and is on the board for - a Boulder-based non-profit for young athletes called the Just Go Harder Foundation. He is also the CEO for Skratch Labs, which was founded in 2011.
Since he stopped racing in 2013, Parisien has been working with indoor training system PowerWatts, and lives in Montreal, Canada. He also works in broadcasting, and is a keen rock climber. The French Canadian came to the team when they were badged as TIAA-CREF in 2006, and was signed off the back of his shock win in the Canadian road race championships in 2005, when he won by almost two minutes. Vaughters followed the race, and a week later offered Parisien a two-year deal.
However, two years later, Parisien found himself surplus to requirements.
"I didn't leave. I was booted out when Vaughters decided to clean out the team and bring on board all the ex-dopers," Parisien told us by way of introducing an awkwardly long pause.
It's fair to say that Parisien – who had a point – and Vaughters don't have the closest of relationships these days, but the Canadian still enjoyed a number of years in the sport after leaving. He joined Team RACE Pro in 2008, which later became SpiderTech, before moving to Argos-Shimano in 2013, with whom he won a stage of the Volta a Catalunya before promptly retiring at the end of that year.
Pate now lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and dogs. He was already in his mid-20s by the time he signed with the team in 2006, having already ridden on the continent with Saeco back in 2001. He returned to the US a year later with Prime Alliance, where he rode alongside Vaughters.
Pate, a former U23 time trial world champion, later made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia in 2008, where he was part of the team that won the first maglia rosa of the race for Christian Vande Velde. A Tour de France spot followed a few months later, with the American almost winning at Prato Nevo. However, he left for HTC-Highroad before spending four years at Team Sky. He rode out his career with three years at Rally before stopping in 2018.
He helps Mike Friedman at Pedaling Minds, and also works on rebuilding houses. When we caught up with Pate, he told us that he's still enjoying his post-retirement phase and has taken up running and motocross. He said that he still talks to a few of the riders who were on Slipstream, including Tom Peterson.
The Frenchman had already raced in Europe for five seasons by the time he linked up with Slipstream, having come through the ranks as a promising U23 rider. He won a national title at that level in 2003, and rode as part of Roger Legay's Crédit Agricole team – where Vaughters had ridden – before moving to the US team in 2007.
"I didn't want to stay with Crédit Agricole, and Roger called Jonathan and got me on the team. My friend François Parisien was already moving to the team, and they both vouched for me. In October 2006, Jonathan called me and we agreed a deal," Patour told Cyclingnews.
However, by the end of 2009, the Frenchman was ready to step away, and his explanation on why he made that choice is certainly illuminating.
"When I was younger, it was certainly easier for me to win races. When I turned pro, it wasn't that easy. We saw many things happen in cycling, but I didn't really see things changing," he said. "I wasn't OK with what was going on in cycling, or sports in general. Then three of my best friends, including Saul Raisin, had some bad accidents. Saul had the worst one, and had a bad brain injury, and when I saw him in hospital, something inside me broke. I couldn't ride the same away again. I was scared, and when you cycle with fear, you can't survive."
A year later, Patour and his wife celebrated the birth of their first child and the Frenchman decided to move away from the WorldTour.
"I wasn't earning a lot of money, and taking all those risks for so little reward wasn't worth it," he admitted. "I had proposals outside of cycling, but after I decided to stop, I did regret it for a while, but today I'm really happy to be where I am in life."
Patour opened a restaurant in Orléans before selling it in 2012, and has since worked for the likes of Mavic and Campagnolo. He moved to Toulouse in 2019 after his wife got a job in the city, and now works in real estate. He still talks to a few of his old Slipstream squad members from time to time.
Peterson was once Vaughters' main pet project after winning the US junior road title in 2004. We've had unconfirmed reports that it took Vaughters a year to sign Peterson owing to the fact that he struggled to track him down for almost a year. If true, we can sympathise.
Peterson won a stage at the Tour of California in 2009, but instead of it acting as the launchpad for bigger and better things, it was the pinnacle for the rider from the West Coast. A former housemate of Danny Pate's, he never quite reached those heights again before leaving for Argos-Shimano in 2013.
He owned a bike shop, but the latest second-hand information we have is that Peterson now works in the healthcare industry, having started on that career path just as his road-racing phase began to wind down in 2014. We managed to swap a few emails with Peterson during our research for this piece, but sadly that's as good as it got. We'll be glad to post an update once we know more.
Once regarded as one of the best North American climbers of his generation, Stetina spent the first half of his career within the Slipstream organisation. He signed for them having won the junior national title in 2005 after beating Tejay van Garderen and Nick Frey to the title.
Stetina would later go on to play an instrumental part in Ryder Hesjedal's Giro d'Italia win in 2011 before moving to BMC Racing and then Trek-Segafredo. A life-threatening crash in 2015 had a huge impact on his time in the WorldTour, and, despite battling back, the Californian never quite reached the heady heights of the sport. In 2019, he hung up his WorldTour career to concentrate on gravel racing full-time.
- Peter Stetina's gravel-adapted Canyon Ultimate CF SLX - Gallery
- Peter Stetina's Canyon Grail gravel bike – Gallery
Now living in Santa Cruz, California, Tolleson is a paramedic in an operating room at a local hospital. His racing career was tragically cut short when in 2009 he was riding his motorcycle near his parents' home and was hit by a drunk driver at almost 100mph.
"I can still walk, so it could be worse," he told us.
Tolleson had been racing triathlon in his teens before switching to collegiate road cycling. He had success at NRC-level races before being signed in 2006. He left for BMC Racing at the end of 2007, but the incident with the drunk driver ended his time in pro cycling. The future is bright for the now 34-year-old, who has a young son and is hoping to become a fire fighter.