Mark Cavendish prepares for a team training ride

All pics © tdwsport.com

Team Columbia-Highroad officially launched its 2009 season at a team presentation in Majorca, Spain, recently. The team comprises 36 riders who together will be looking to repeat and beat last year's impressive 85 race wins, with the women’s team scoring a further 68 wins.

The team is confident of raising the bar this year, says team owner Bob Stapleton. “Whether we win or lose, it is done as a team," Stapleton said. “I’m not just proud of our success, I’m proud of the way in which we achieve it. All of the victories were earned by a good collective effort - by the riders and the management. We are built around the best practices and the best equipment in the sport, and we are constantly looking for better methods. The support of our 20 partners brings valuable resources and knowledge to that process."

Stapleton has looked make strategic changes with the new team, and to build on the strengths and lessen their weaknesses, so the signing of Michael Albasini will improve their chances on mountain stages. Other signings including Gert Dockx (20, Belgium), Maxime Monfort (25, Belgium) and Mark Renshaw (26, Australia), while Ellen Van Dijk (21, Netherlands) and Alex Wrubleski (24, Canada) join the women’s squad.

It’s a young team, with 21 of the riders, more than half, being under 26-years of age. Stapleton hopes that “…future champions will come out of this team as well."

The new yellow and white team jerseys were also unveiled at the event. The bold new design is a big departure from the traditional Team Columbia design of 2008. Featuring a high-tech, bionic-inspired muscle graphic across the abdomen, the jersey is sure to get attention as Team Columbia-Highroad racers compete in 2009. Stapleton explained that yellow stands for success in cycling, just like the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, while white represents transparency and clean racing.

Stapleton concluded: “We rode well throughout the whole season last year, winning from January to October, and the aim is to do the same again in 2009."

www.highroadsports.com