Americans Danny Pate and Tejay Van Garderen got their tickets punched for the Tour de France as HTC-Highroad announced its nine starting riders for the upcoming grande boucle.
Pate will be back for his third Tour while Van Garderen will be making his Tour debut. Both will be there to help sprint ace Mark Cavendish as well as GC leaders Tony Martin and Peter Velits.
The team has named Bernhard Eisel as road captain for the 2011 Tour.
Cavendish will be the center of HTC-Highroad’s hopes. Already a winner of 15 Tour stages, the Manxman will be on the hunt for the green jersey while battling to add to his victory tally.
“As Cav’ says, for him it’s about winning stages,” says team manager Rolf Aldag. “He has won 15 TdF stages with us since 2008 and our goal is add to this impressive tally. We believe he is the fastest sprinter in the world and he will get the support he’s used to with Eisel and (Mark) Renshaw. We continue a winning formula.”
“Eisel is our most experienced guy and our road captain,” added Aldag. “He is essential to make crucial decisions in the race and to keep everyone relaxed and confident during the Tour with his leadership and spirit.”
Also named to the Tour squad are Renshaw, Matt Goss and Lars Bak.
“We have adapted our roster to the specific stages of the 2011 course, which include classic-like stages that may deeply challenge pure sprinters, but play to the strengths of Matt Goss. He has won eight races already this year, including Milan-San Remo, and has proven he can win on difficult finishes. He deserves his first start in the Tour de France and will get his chances. He may also be a strong contender for the green jersey as the race progresses.
“After winning Paris-Nice Tony Martin is ready to be our GC contender,” Aldag said. “He has realistic hopes of a top-10 position in GC and he’ll get the support from the team. He already won on the ITT course in Grenoble this year. That will be a strong point for him and we will also rely on him to help power us in the pivotal team time trial on stage 2.
“Peter Velits brings remarkable versatility to the roster. He was an impressive third place in the Vuelta last year, despite the work he did for Cav’ in the first week. He could be working hard for Tony and could also show that he can also contend the GC.
“Young Tejay Van Garderen will make his first Tour de France start and we’re confident he’s ready. Having survived the Vuelta last year in good form he has shown that he is capable of handing a three-week race. He’s had an extraordinary season and will be asked to help in the team time trial and to learn as much as he can. His future is in riding GC in grand tours so he’ll try to soak up as much experience as he can.
“Finally we have Lars Bak and Danny Pate. Both of these riders are remarkable on their own, but the success we hope to attain will no doubt come from the endless work that these guys will do during the race. They have proven they can ride on the front forever and do it with a smile on their face. They are a vital part of the team and we are proud to race with them in the Tour De France.”
Aldag said it wasn’t easy deciding which riders to bring to the Tour. HTC’s deep squad meant that some riders who were ready to race the Tour were left home.
“It took us quite a while to come to our final decisions on the team. We have such a strong, balanced roster overall and it’s hard to leave riders like Albasini, Martin Velits, Sivtsov, Rasmussen and Grabsch home.”
HTC-Highroad for the Tour de France
- Bernhard Eisel (A)
- Mark Cavendish (GB)
- Matt Goss (Aus)
- Mark Renshaw (Aus)
- Tony Martin (G)
- Peter Velits (Slv)
- Lars Bak (Dk)
- Danny Pate (USA)
- Tejay Van Garderen (USA)