Mark Cavendish headlines HTC-Highroad in what will be the men’s team’s final grand tour, the Vuelta a España.
HTC-Highroad, which is folding the men’s squad at the end of this season, wants to go out with a bang. The squad lines up with a heavy sprint team and a strong lineup for success in Saturday’s TTT opener.
“It’s not easy for us to think of this as the last grand tour for the team, given it’s our history,” said sport director Jens Zemke in a team release. “But all of us, riders and staff are professionals and we have kept the motivation high.”
Cavendish won last year’s points jersey and will be the favorite to repeat, if he decides to arrive to Madrid.
Cavendish will be using the Vuelta to prepare for the upcoming world championships, which are being held on a sprint-friendly course in Copenhagen two weeks after the Vuelta finishes in Madrid on Sept. 11.
Matt Goss, Leigh Howard and John Degenkolb will also be starting, leaving Cavendish without his favorite lead-out men, Mark Renshaw and Bernie Eisel.
The team is putting its emphasis on the sprints, but will have Michael Albasini, Martin Velits and Kanstantsin Sivtsov for the GC option. “We have a lot of sprinters in our lineup so we’ll be going for stage wins over the GC, but if any of our guys wind up with a good position we’ll support him.”
The team has also enlisted HTC-Highroad’s technical developer, Lars Teutenberg, for his time trial expertise to make sure that the fleet is in absolute perfect condition for the opening team time trial on Saturday.
“We want a good result in the team time trial. It’s 13 and a half kilometers long and the guys are in good form so we’re confident to make a good result there.”
HTC-Highroad for the Vuelta a España: Michael Albasini (Swi) Mark Cavendish (GB) John Degenkolb (Ger) Matthew Goss (Aus) Bert Grabsch (Ger) Leigh Howard (Aus) Tony Martin (Ger) Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Byl) Martin Velits (Slv)