Team Columbia-Highroad Presents 2009 Team
Team Columbia-Highroad officially launched the 2009 season at their team presentation yesterday in Mallorca, Spain, expecting an impressive sequel to the team’s hugely successful run of victories in 2008.
The half-hour presentation of Team Columbia-Highroad’s 36 athletes started with a brief overview of the winning 2008 season, in which the men’s team won 85 races, and the women’s squad notched up 68 - more than any other pro team.
In the team management comments that followed, Team Columbia-Highroad owner Bob Stapleton and team manager Rolf Aldag said they were confident the squad would raise the bar even higher in 2009. Working as a team and winning fairly remain the cornerstone of the team’s strategy for success.
“Whether we win or lose, it is done as a team,” Stapleton commented. “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.”
“We had high expectations of the squad in 2008 and they were more than fulfilled,” Director of European Marketing for Columbia Sportswear Antti Karava said during his speech. “This truly multi-national team is an enormously valuable asset for Columbia.”
“We are proud to be the co-sponsor of a team and a group of riders that represent all that is great about getting outdoors and doing what they love, whether it’s winning a stage of a race, working closely with their teammates to create an opportunity, or training for the season through other outdoor activities”, said Tim Boyle, President and Chief Executive Officer, Columbia Sportswear Company.
Boyle added that “our sponsorship is a great way to promote Columbia’s product technologies, such as Omni-Shade sun-protective apparel, through one of the most-watched professional sports in the world, and we are excited to be associated with such a young, exciting team that has received so much recognition for their success.”
In 2009, Columbia-Highroad will have 25 riders on their men’s team and 11 on the women’s team. Nine of them are current national champions.
New signings that are part of the men’s Team Columbia-High Road squad are Michael Albasini (28, Italy), Gert Dockx (20, Belgium), Maxime Monfort (25, Belgium) and Mark Renshaw (26, Australia), while Ellen Van Dijk (21, Netherlands) and Alex Wrubleski (24, Canada) both join the women’s squad.
“We have made a few strategic changes. The aim is to build on our strengths and elevate our weaknesses,” Stapleton explained. “Michael Albasini, for example, is of great importance for the mountain stages.”
Columbia-Highroad is making no secret about their ambitious plans for 2009, and the team continues its effort to signal a high degree of emphasis on cycling’s future as well. “Of our 36 riders, 21 of them are 26 or younger, making us the youngest team at the top level of professional cycling,” Stapleton pointed out. “We hope that future champions will come out of the this team as well.”
The new yellow and white-colored Team Columbia-High Road jerseys were also unveiled at the event. The bold new Team CSC-inspired 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.”
Following the team launch, riders assembled for a two-hour training ride in the warm and sunny European weather.
Team Columbia-Highroad 2009 Roster:
Edvald Boasson Hagen
Ellen Van Dijk
Linda Melanie Villumsen