HTC-Columbia's men's and women's squads were officially presented in Majorca, Spain, on Tuesday and will head into the 2010 season with a combined total of 15 new riders.
The men's team will once again be headed by Mark Cavendish and André Greipel, with Team Director Rolf Aldag naming Australian Michael Rogers as the team's road captain. The women's squad will focus on a schedule of American and European races and will be able to count on veteran Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, who led the team in terms of victories in 2009.
For the men's 28-strong team in particular, wholesale changes have seen 11 new riders drafted into the squad. Slovakian twins Martin and Peter Velits have joined the team from Milram, with Hayden Roulston making the switch from Cervélo TestTeam. The latter has been touted by the team as key figure in Cavendish's lead-out train for the Tour de France. While the massive change in personnel has occupied much of the management's focus in the off-season, the team is confident they will start the season with a strong combination in place.
"I think we have a great set-up this year. We're better organised than in the past because we started [planning for 2010] last September, right after the World Championships," Aldag told Cyclingnews. "With a lot of new riders, we've already done a lot of work to integrate them into the team at a time when a lot of other squads don't even know their roster for the following year."
In addition to the Velits' and Roulston, Patrick Gretsch, Rasmus Guldhammer, Leigh Howard, Aleksejs Saramotins, Tejay Van Garderen, and former Saxo Bank teammates Lars Bak and Matthew Goss will all be wearing HTC-Columbia colours this year.
The team has made no secret of the success it wishes to repeat from last season, with the Milan-Sanremo and the Tour's green jersey their clear objectives. While their 86 wins in 2009 had gone well beyond the team's initial expectations, Aldag said the squad was prepared to take a narrower focus this season – and potentially sacrifice smaller race wins.
"It's not the expectation to have more wins that this year and it can't be the goal. What we want to do is secure the quality of wins. The focus will be on the main events, which will be Milan-Sanremo and winning the green jersey and stages at the Tour de France. The Tour itself is very, very important for us and if we sacrifice some other race wins for that objective, that's fine for us."
The 11-rider women's team includes four new riders. Bolstered this year by Italy's Noemi Cantele, USA's Evelyn Stevens, Australian Chloe Hosking and Dutchwoman Adrie Visser, the squad will continue as one of the dominant forces in women's cycling as it enters the 2010 season.
The women have already kick-started their year with a victory, Hosking claiming the Australian Open Criterium Championships on Sunday. Linda Villumsen and Judith Arndt have also started well with second and third places at the New Zealand and Australian Open road titles, respectively.
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, the team's most successful rider in 2009 with more than 20 wins, said she doesn't expect a repeat of her record last year, but was confident the breadth of talent in the team would secure the team's share of wins.
"I think we're a stronger team this year, so [the number of wins for the team] should vary out this year," she told Cyclingnews. "I never expected to get 20 wins last year, so if I can come home with 15 this year I think I can be satisfied with my season."
|Lars Ytting Bak|
|Vicente Reynes Mimo|
|Tejay Van Garderen|
|Ellen Van Dijk|
|Linda Villumsen Serup|
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