Columbia brings new co-sponsor and killer lineup to Tour
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Monday, June 29, 2009

Columbia brings new co-sponsor and killer lineup to Tour

by VeloNation Press at 5:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Along with their tour roster, Team Columbia announced a new co-sponsor - HTC Communication - to begin at the Grand Depart in Monaco on July 4. HTC Communication is a Taiwanese company that produces mobile phones.

"We're looking forward to the Grand Depart in Monaco where we will start our first race as Columbia-HTC and our new co-title sponsor HTC will be on location to witness the great spectacle of the Tour de France," said Team Owner Bob Stapleton.

The newly minted Columbia-HTC team will go into this year's tour with an impressive 49 victories in 2009, more than any other team. Even more impressive is the fact that their wins come from so many different riders, making the task of choosing nine for the Tour de France extremely difficult.

Team manager Rolf Adag said, "This was the toughest decision of the year, as we had 15 guys who deserved to be on our Tour de France team. It was difficult to personally disappoint these fine athletes.

"Ultimately we succeed as a team, and we chose the combination of rider that give us the greatest combined opportunity for success on the course and the expected competition."

It comes as no surprise that the team includes Mark Cavendish, the winner of four stages in 2008, and his leadout specialist Mark Renshaw. Austrian Bernhard Eisel will also be a key ingredient of the teams' leadout train. The man from the Isle of Man is hands down the team's best chance for stage wins in the race.

For the overall, Columbia-HTC will bring 2008 yellow jersey wearer Kim Kirchen and Australian Michael Rogers who is fresh off of an 8th place finish in the Giro d'Italia. For support in the mountains, young German Tony Martin will be making his Tour debut together with Belgian Maxime Monfort in his second Tour appearance. While the team doesn't look to be a threat to the overall race, if they play their cards right they could tickle the podium.

The team will also bring the two utility riders in current World Time Trial Champion Bert Grabsch and Road Captain George Hincapie who will be making his 14th start in the Grand Boucle. Both riders have the pedigree to make a difference in the race on many levels.

The bottom line is that this team has the potential to win any given stage. Cavendish underscored that fact in the Giro d'Italia earlier this year and their results rang true. The last man to get the better of Cavendish was Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes), and his team wasn't invited to the race. If he's on form, their biggest rival in the sprints will be Spaniard Oscar Freire, and if Garmin-Slipstream can get their leadout right Tyler Farrar could spoil the party. The wildcard for the sprints would be Quick-Step's Tom Boonen. If Boonen is allowed to take the start, his team has the horsepower to match the American team in the leadout, and Boonen's sprint will be much sharper than earlier in the year when he was training for the Spring Classics.

"We hope we can achieve the same kind of success at the Tour that we have enjoyed thus far in 2009," said Stapleton. It's safe to say that their success is likely to continue.

Team Columbia-HTC for the Tour de France:

Mark Cavendish (UK)
Bernhard Eisel (AUT)
Bert Grabsch (GER)
George Hincapie (USA)
Kim Kirchen (LUX)
Tony Martin (GER)
Maxime Monfort (BEL)
Mark Renshaw (AUS)
Michael Rogers (AUS)

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