Tour Guide Flashback – Garmin Team Pages (2011)

RIDE Media has produced the official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) since 2003. The 2012 edition will be on sale mid-June. During the production period, we will be looking back at certain features from over the years.

In this flashback we take a look at the commentary on the Garmin team from the 2011 Tour preview.

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Flashback: 2011 – Garmin-Cervélo Team Pages

Different hopes but definitely still aspiring

The progression of this team has been rapid and impressive but there is still one crucial element missing from all that it has accomplished during its three years at the Tour: a victory… of any kind! Yes, in its previous incarnations (ie. before this year and the merger with the Cervélo TestTeam, which prompted a big change to the roster) it has put two guys in the top four of GC – Christian Vande Velde and then Bradley Wiggins – and become a player in the race. But surely, for all the bravado and hype, a stage win isn’t too much to ask.

Tyler Farrar has been close. His sprinting is improving each year and in 2011 he’s got a world champion on his side. With Thor Hushovd’s presence (thanks to the merger) this could be the year when Garmin puts someone on the podium somewhere between the start and the finish. To suggest that Ryder Hesjedal is a contender for the GC podium, however, is a stretch.

Oh yeah, he was good last year. As the bunch shrank near the top of the critical climbs, the Canadian was one of the last to drop from the front group… but inevitably he did. After the Tourmalet stage, he was upset at the future world number-one for his lack of respect. “[Joaquim] Rodriguez actually sat on me for the majority of the last kilometre, and then took me at the end for third,” said Hejsedal about the Katusha rider. “I wasn’t too happy… Just, you know, respect the racing.”

So in the queen stage in the mountains near the end of the race, he was fourth. It was the same place he took on the key day of the first week, when the peloton tackled cobbled roads similar to those used for Paris-Roubaix. The former mountain bike racer (who finished second in the world championships of 2003) was touted as Canada’s best hope of a Tour win when he started his road career in 2002 with Rabobank’s development team. He took his reputation to US Postal, but barely raced. Then, in 2005, he started the Giro d’Italia when a team-mate (Paolo Savoldelli) won… but Ryder was gone after stage 12.

Last year he raced the Tour as a team leader, after another early crash by Vande Velde who was gone before stage three. And finally Hesjedal demonstrated why he’s a tall white hope from the off-road ranks. He’s a most complete rider.

Just don’t be surprised if Ryder is relegated to a domestique again. The merger changed everything for this team with large hopes and aspirations. Jonathan Vaughters has landed with a thud in the management world. He turned a fledgling US team into one of the best in the peloton, complete with a coincidental acquisition of a world champion. Like a cat that’s swallowing a canary, he’s smirking as though his prey is actually something much larger. Not only did he snare Thor Hushovd’s presence without really trying, his team became the first from the US to win Paris-Roubaix. The results were flukes, but circumstances fell his way for him to be cocky, confident enough – it would seem – to taunt the UCI and hint at creating his own league of professional cycling. You’ve got to admire such spirit, but does this digression serve a purpose or is it just going to prove to be one distraction too many for a man who wants it all?

There’s a lot of potential for Garmin-Cervélo. There always has been, but at the Tour it has only ever been close…

By Rob Arnold

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