Team Columbia-HTC has signed what it describes as eight youthful talents for the 2010 season, replacing several experienced riders who have left the squad. The 2010 roster includes 27 riders for the men’s team and nine members for the women’s team. New members of the men's squad include eight riders under the age of 25, including Saxo Bank riders Lars Ytting Bak and Australian Matt Goss. Also joining the team from Cervelo TestTeam is New Zealand track specialist Hayden Roulston.
"We are very far along with our roster,” Bob Stapleton, the team owner, told Cyclingnews. “We are really focusing on what we do best and that is bringing in top international talents and in particular young talents. We want to bring them into an environment where they can grow and improve quickly."
"These are talents that are recognized," Stapleton said. "We are overwhelmingly young, but we also have some strong veteran riders that are coming who will improve the quality of the team. Goss is only 22, but you would think he is older. Roulston and Goss will fit nicely into our sprint operations. Not just a lead-out but being the sprinters themselves," Stapleton said.
Mark Cavendish, the team's most successful rider, made history when he won his sixth Tour de France stage on the Champs-Elysées this year and will again be the cornerstone of the Columbia outfit. His teammate Andre Greipel, who recently won two stages at the Vuelta a Espana will also remain with the squad. Michael Rogers will continue to lead the team’s Grand Tour aspirations, with Marco Pinotti and World time trial champion Bert Grabsch offering support in shorter stage races.
"We are continuing to invest in keeping Greipel and Mark well supported," Stapleton said. "Keeping a lot of fast guys who can win races isn’t a bad formula for success for the team. The men’s team won 75 races this year and that comes from having depth and always being competitive in the sprint."
Stapleton will be looking for his young signings to make an impact next year, none more so than 2009 Under 23 Tour of Flanders winner Jan Ghyselinck and the winner of the Under 23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Rasmus Guldhammer – both 20. Also joining the squad are Australia’s Leigh Howard, 20, American Tejay Van Garderen, 21, Germany’s Patrick Gretsch, 22 and Slovakian twins Peter and Martin Velits, 24.
"This is our advantage," Stapleton said. "We hire based on merit, not based on nationality. Our management team is very international with six different countries represented and they are experts in certain countries. They are constantly recruiting. We are looking around at every race. We have room to hire more but we are happy with what we have.”
During 2008 and 2009 the men's team won 152 UCI races and partly responsible for this success are the departing riders Kim Kirchen, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Greg Henderson, Michael Barry, Thomas Lovkvist, and veteran USPro Champion George Hincapie.
"The riders that we are keeping won about 85 per cent of the races we won this year so we are not losing a lot of our fire power," Stapleton said. "Obviously we are losing George who will be the marquee for BMC, Kirchen has gone to Katusha and the Sky hasn’t announced their roster but they will have five or six of our riders. It makes sense that they want riders who are English speaking, who work together and who are competitive. They have to look at us and Garmin for that. I don’t begrudge those guys. I feel like we were apart of their success and we will always enjoy their success.”
Adding strength to the women's team is the Italian timetrial champion Noemi Cantele, 28, who comes from Swiss team Bigla and newcomer Evelyn Stevens, 26, from the US. Discussions with additional riders are underway, but Columbia believe that this duo will increase the women’s 109 total wins to date. The women’s team has also earned the number one UCI ranking for three consecutive years.
"We are very optimistic about what Evelyn can do," Stapleton said. "She still has a lot to learn about racing but she’s got good instincts and good ability and she will come along very quickly. She’s mature and she has confidence and that is going to do well when it comes to adapting to races in Europe."
Columbia-HTC 2010 Roster
Michael Albasini 28 Switzerland
Lars Ytting Bak 29 Denmark
Mark Cavendish 24 UK
Gert Dockx 21 Belgium
Bernhard Eisel 28 Austria
Jan Ghyselinck 20 Belgium
Matt Goss 23 Australia
Bert Grabsch 34 Germany
André Greipel 27 Germany
Rasmus Guldhammer 20 Denmark
Patrick Gretsch 22 Germany
Leigh Howard 20 Australia
Adam Hansen 28 Australia
Craig Lewis 23 USA
Tony Martin 24 Germany
Maxime Monfort 26 Belgium
Marco Pinotti 33 Italy
Frantisek Rabon 25 Czech Republic
Mark Renshaw 26 Australia
Vicente Reynes 28 Spain
Hayden Roulston 27 NewZealand
Michael Rogers 29 Australia
Marcel Sieberg 27 Germany
Kanstantsin Sivtsov 27 Belarus
Tejay Van Garderen 21 USA
Martin Velits 24 Slovakia
Peter Velits 24 Slovakia
Kim Anderson 41 USA
Judith Arndt 34 Germany
Noemi Cantele 28 Italy
Emilia Fahlin 20 Sweden
Luise Keller 25 Germany
Evelyn Stevens 25 USA
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg 34 Germany
Ellen Van Dijk 22 Netherlands
Linda Melanie Villumsen 24 Denmark
Kirsten Frattini has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level all the way to the World Cup. She is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. Kirsten has worked in both print and digital publishing. She started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006, and was responsible for reporting from the US and Canadian racing scene. Now as a Production Editor, she produces international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits global news and writes features.
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