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NEW YORK (VN) — In August, Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters described the new relationship between American bicycle manufacturer Cannondale and his long-running pro cycling team as “a marriage,” rather than a merger.
Using that analogy, the launch of the 2015 Cannondale-Garmin team Wednesday night in Manhattan was the team’s wedding reception — a swanky, upscale affair held at the Frank Gehry-designed InterActiveCorp Building.
Most of the 27-rider team was not present — some riders are in Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under, the WorldTour season opener, and others are preparing for the Tour de San Luis, in Argentina.
However, several of the team’s top names were in attendance, including returning riders Andrew Talansky, Daniel Martin, and Ben King, as well as new signings Davide Formolo, Ted King, and Joe Dombrowski.
After a highly-produced video recap of the team’s off-season sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands, Vaughters gave a short speech before the six riders strode on stage wearing the team’s new kit, a mostly black design featuring Cannondale’s “Berserker green” argyle across the chest and back.
The entire event, in fact, was slick and polished, held under the glow of green lighting. The team’s three Cannondale frame options were on display — the lightweight SuperSix racer, the Synapse endurance model for the cobbled classics, and the Slice time-trial machine. Key equipment from sponsors, such as Garmin, Mavic, New Balance, POC, Castelli, FSA, Vision, and Kinetic, were also on display.
With the retirement of David Millar, following the 2013 retirement of Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie, this iteration of the former Garmin squad is its youngest since the team launched in 2008. (CyclingQuotes.com lists Cannondale as having the youngest average age — 26.1 — of any 2015 WorldTour team.)
Of the Slipstream Sports squad that launched in 2008, only Martin, Danielson, and Ryder Hesjedal remain, entering their eighth consecutive year with the organization.
It may be a young squad, but this is a team with proven winners — riders such as Moreno Moser, Ramunas Navardauskas, Hesjedal, and Danielson. However, it’s clear that Vaughters sees the squad’s future in Talansky, the 2014 Critérium du Dauphiné overall winner, and Martin, the 2014 Il Lombardia champion.
Though Talansky is just 25 years old, Vaughters listed him as one of the squad’s three road captains, along with Martin, 28, and Hesjedal, 34, working under relatively young directors: Charly Wegelius, 36; Robbie Hunter, 37; and Andreas Klier, 38.
“It’s definitely a transition. We have a younger team, and we’re kind of growing into it together,” Talansky said. “We have great directors, to fill that missing gap, but I don’t think age is the crucial factor. It’s how you interact with your teammates, how you are on and off the bike, that’s what really makes you a leader. There are guys who are 35 who aren’t leaders, because that’s just not what they do. I think between myself, Dan, and Ryder, we’ll do pretty well.”
For the first half of the 2015 season, Talansky said he would focus on being at 100 percent for three key stage races — Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Vuelta al País Vasco — before defending his Dauphiné title and then tackling the Tour de France, looking to improve upon his 10th place finish in 2013.
Martin said he would race Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya, and his beloved Ardennes classics before the Tour de France, where he will ride in support of Talansky and look to add another stage win to his 2013 triumph in Bagnères-de-Bigorre.
“Andrew’s thing at the Tour is GC, and for me, I just love racing. I think at the Tour, you have to be very conservative to ride GC, kind of looking after what you’ve got, and trying to inch forward … by thinking only about GC, you can miss opportunities elsewhere.”
Martin added that he might also take a shot at the Vuelta a España, depending on how he feels after the Tour.
“It was an exciting evening,” said Vaughters. “We have an outstanding, young team and phenomenal partners. The team launch is the start of an exciting season.”