By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile Team went into the 2007 season with lowered expectations, and can now look back on a more than satisfactory season with 35 wins from the men's team and 31 by the women. "We more than fulfilled our expectations," said Sport Director Rolf Aldag.
"It was our goal to be competitive over the whole season and not to work towards just a few season highlights," he said on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com. Things got off to a slow start, but then things went "very, very well."
"Whether it was Mark Cavendish, Gerald Ciolek, or Kim Kirchen, who rode the whole season at a very high level the team showed what it was capable of. And there is a lot more potential there, I am convinced of that," Aldag said.
The team's season was dominated by the sprinters. Bernhard Eisel opened the season with a stage win in the Volta ao Algarve and Cavendish closed it with a stage win in the Circuit Franco-Belge. The young Manxman alone accounted for 11 victories. Fellow sprinter Gerald Ciolek won eight races over the season.
Another early and unexpected success was Marcus Burghardt's win in Gent-Wevelgem, which established him as a contender in the Spring Classics.
The team was no longer solely focused on the Tour de France or Grand Tours, but managed to do well in all three this year. Marco Pinotti wore the leader's pink jersey for several days in the Giro d'Italia. Linus Gerdemann won a stage in the Tour de France and took the leader's jersey for a day, and Kirchen finished seventh overall. The team also won two stage in the Vuelta a España, with Bert Grabsch winning the first time trial and Andreas Klier taking a stage win.
There were some low points for the team, too. Serguei Honchar was released after his "questionable blood test results" were found to have violated the team's internal code of conduct. That same Code of Conduct led to the release of Lorenzo Bernucci, who tested positive for an appetite depressant during the Deutschland Tour.
The team will have a different face in the coming season, with 10 new riders. It loses such veterans as Giuseppe Guerini and Axel Merckx to retirement. New riders include George Hincapie, Bradley Wiggins and youngster Edvald Boassan Hagen.
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