Monday, 27 June 2011

#TDF The Teams 6 - HTC-Highroad

Cavendish first and Renshaw second in Paris 2009
There is no surprise that this team has two objectives. One is to get Mark Cavendish to the front of as many sprints as the Manx Missile can get to, the other other is that Tony Martin places as high as possible in the General Classification so therefore the team is designed with engines to help both to their goals.

Mark Cavendish (UK) 26 This years Tour isn't that good for him. Though that shouldn't stop Cav climbing from his tie for 12th for most stage wins. He currently has 15 one less than the great Jacques Anquetil. Expect that to be matched on stage three into Redon.  He may climb into 8th equal with France's Jean Alavoine on stage five to Cap Frehél, although watch those cross winds. Stage 6 unless he has improved his performance on uphill finishes may be beyond him, but stage 7 is ideal for the Missile to be launched into Châteauroux. He'll be struggling with the mountains from then until stage 15 to Montpellier. If this produces a fourth stage win he will have matched the first non-French winner of the Tour François Faber's 19 stage wins. All that would remain then would be the Avenue that the Manxman has owned the last two years the Champs-Élysées. By the end 20 stage wins is possible, with the help of the other eight men, but Cav will have to be perfect. 5th Tour Start: best 131st (2009) Six stage wins 2009, 2nd in the Points Classification (2010)

Tony Martin (Ger) 26 Last year didn't have so good an overall Tour, but did well in the Time Trials only losing out to Fabian Cancellara. Being the same age as Andy Schleck has meant that he has also missed on on winning the best Your Rider competition in the Tour, despite holding it for a long time in 2009. He will be the teams focus when the road goes up and Cav is sitting uncomfortably in the Autobus. He won Paris-Nice this year, including winning the Individual Time Trail a feat he repeated in the Volta ao Algarve. With ITT wins also in the Critérium du Dauphiné and Tour of the Basque Country look out for him come Grenoble. But also expect him to ride in the mountains more like he did in 2009, that year he was second in the Tour de Suisse and picked up the Mountain Jersey en route. 3rd TS: best 36th 2009

Mark Renshaw (Aus) 28 The Aussie's cheif task as in every Tour recently has been to make sure that with 200 metres to go in a mass sprint that there is a little Manxman on his back wheel and a clear chance for his change to hit the line first. Renshaw was kicked off last year's Tour for a head butting incident, but his charge carried on winning stages. In 2009 he gave Cav such a good lead out up the Champs-Élysées. he'd love to do that again some day with the man in front wearing green. I don't think that will be this year however, but he is an important cog as Cav focuses in on 20 stage wins. 4th TS: best 149th (2009)

Lars Bak (Den) 31 Having been national Time Trial Champion 3 years in a row and 5th in this year's Paris-Robaix he will be using his time trialling skils largely in pursuit of the escapees on the stages that Mark Cavendish is looking to win. Tour Debut

Bernhard Eisel (Aut) 30 He is another of the big engines in the crunch stage of the Manxman's train. A sprinter in his own right but he will sacrifice his all to help establish Renshaw and Cavendish in the right point. he finshed 4th in the Green Jersey himself in 2006 but will sacrifice it all for the sprint leader of this team. 8th TS: best 108th (2006) 4th in the Points Classification

Matt Goss (Aus) 24 Another sprinter on this team who could win stages on his own if Cav isn't there. He has won the sprint jersey in this year's Tour Down Under, a stage in Paris-Nice and won Milan-San Remo. He has a first and second pllce finish in stages of last year's Giro d'Italia and came third in a stage of last year's Vuelta a España. He is making his first start, but in years to come may well move teams to take on Cav as so many other young sprinters have had to do. Debut Tour.

Danny Pate (USA) 32 New to HTC this year the one time cyclo-cross US junior champion is a power house that will do long stints at the front to chase down a breakaway so their man can take the stage win. He'll then be one of the riders to help Martin for as long as possible in the mountain passes. 3rd TS: Best 95th (2008)

Teejay van Garderen (USA) 22 The young time trialist is another guy who will sacirfice himself at the front of a pursuit to bring the race back together for their man. He came 3rd in the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné upsetting Alberto Contador in the Prologue, coming 5th and best Young Rider in this year's Tour of California he's earnt his first start in the Tour. Tour Debut

Peter Velits (SVK) 26 His twin brother Martin has not made the HTC team for this year, but his 3rd in the Vuelta a España (2010) including winning the ITT on stage 17, means that he will be the chief supporter for Martin in the Mountains. He was the most compative rider in the 2008 Tour on the road to Alpe d'Huez, wonder if he will do the same again this year. 4th TS: best 32nd (2009)

Stage wins are the main aim and getting as good a finish for Martin as possible a secondary objective. But the site of Cavendish arms raised in triumph is big business to try and lure in potential new sponsors to this team, and it needs them before the end of the Tour to keep going.

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