By Shane Stokes in Portugal
Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, former Green Jersey Thor Hushovd and Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong were amongst the men and women featured on Sunday at the official launch of the Cervélo Test Team in Portugal. A total of 25 men and 12 women make up the 2009 squads, which have the aim of targeting the biggest races in the sport.
Sastre told Cyclingnews after the launch that he expects the team to get an invite to the three Grand Tours, and that he will head to the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the world championships thinking of the victory in each.
Thor Hushovd's wish list includes the Tour green jersey, a stage win in the Giro and success in either Milan-Sanremo or Paris-Roubaix, while Armstrong wants to reclaim the rainbow jersey in what she says will be her final season as a competitor.
"We have made a dream," said Sastre during the presentation. "To build a team, a nice team, an honest team. Everybody is really happy, everybody is part of this project, everybody adds their philosophy to the team.
"I knew before the Tour that it would be my last year with my previous team [CSC, now Saxo Bank]. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but as soon as I heard about this project, as soon as I heard from Gerard Vroomen what he wanted to do with other sponsors, I didn't need to think too much about it."
The Cervélo Test Team project follows the successful running of the women's team, which was itself re-launched one year ago and has become amongst the strongest in that side of the sport. Last summer Cervélo's Phil White and Gerard Vroomen discussed their involvement in the sport and, with their contract with CSC - Saxo Bank ending, decided to take things to the next level.
Both engineers had a very strong interest in developing their products, and the thoughts of having the chance to do so with close feedback from professional riders was hard to resist.
White summed up the partners' reasoning behind the development of the team at Sunday's presentation. "We did it because we feel that professional cycling is of extreme importance to the bike industry," he stated during the launch. "Rather than just criticize on the sidelines as a sponsor, we decided we should put our money where our mouth is and be proactive.
Vroomen echoed this."While race exposure is great, we need more than that. Our company is based on creating the best products, and to continue to offer that to our customers, we need assistance and feedback from pro riders during product development. The best way to ensure the team is focused on providing this feedback is to own the team."
Like Sastre, Hushovd was looking for a fresh start, a new environment. "I wanted to go to something new. When I heard about this project I really liked the philosophy of the team. I thought it was quite interesting and now that I see everything, I am very happy to be here. There is a good group of English speaking guys and will have a lot of fun out there. We will win a lot of races with the best material in the world."
The men's team also features riders of the caliber of 2008 Tour stage winner Simon Gerrans, Heinrich Haussler, Iñigo Cuesta López, Brett Lancaster, Roger Hammond and José Ángel Gomez Marchante, while the women's squad has Armstrong, Olympic silver medallist Emma Pooley, dual Australian champion Carla Ryan, Kirsten Wild and Christiane Soeder.
Cyclingnews will have more soon on the team launch, including an interview with Carlos Sastre.
See the photo gallery.