HTC-Columbia kicks off season in San Dimas

The world’s best professional women’s team will take the start Friday at the San Dimas Stage Race. After camp in the team’s NorCal hometown of San Luis Obsipo, HTC-Columbia prepared for San Dimas and the Redlands Bicycle Classic before heading to Europe.

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Kim Anderson, Ina-Yoko Teuntenberg, Bob Stapleton, Chloe Hosking, Evelyn Stevens and Emilia Fahlin

The world’s best professional women’s team will take the start Friday at the San Dimas Stage Race. After camp in the team’s NorCal hometown of San Luis Obsipo, HTC-Columbia prepared for San Dimas and the Redlands Bicycle Classic before heading to Europe. Some of the team are veterans — the world’s top female sprinter Ina-Yoko Teutenberg returns for 2010, as does Judith Arndt and Kim Anderson — but many of the 11-woman roster are relative newcomers. VeloNews caught up with a few of the riders plus Rene Wenzel, who joins the squad this year as a director.

Kim Anderson, 42

Anderson enjoyed a successful 2009 with the team, capturing the overall at the Route de France — “That was just huge for me,” she said — following her overall win in 2008 at San Dimas and second place at the Swedish World Cup. For 2010, she’s hoping for the positive trend to continue.

“Being on this team, everyone is a pretty amazing athlete, and when you come together, it makes it easier at races,” Anderson said. “You get opportunity often, because there are so many riders that other teams have to watch.”

Anderson said racing alongside the likes of internationally decorated riders such as Teutenberg and Arndt doesn’t add pressure.

“We don’t really look at it this way. I don’t really feel pressure. This is what we’ve trained for,” she saids. “We are provided with so many opportunities, and many things that other teams don’t have. It means a lot to me, because Bob (Stapleton, team owner) has fought so much for the women’s team. We’re very fortunate. There are not many women’s teams that are treated like equals to men’s teams.”

As for goals this year, Anderson said she simply doesn’t have specific targets, aside from wanting to return to nationals after a few years’ absence.

“I don’t really have any personal races,” she said. “Overall I just want to do well in every race. We have (the Tour of) Flanders coming up as our first race in Europe. I would like to make it over the hills and be there in the end. It’s really fun to be riding really well at the World Cups.”

Evelyn Stevens, 26

(L to R) Evelyn Stevens, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Rene Wenzel, Kim Anderson, Emilia Fahlin, Ronny Lauke and Chloe Hosking

Former Wall Streeter Stevens made a splash in the American pro ranks last year, coming out of nowhere to win the overall at the Cascade Classic and Fitchburg Longsjo — as well as taking a stage and second overall at Route de France behind Anderson and second in the U.S. national time trial championships.

Still living in New York City when not racing, Stevens said her friends and former Lehman bank coworkers enjoy updates about her new life.

“Most of them really don’t understand it, per se, they call it my bike thing,” Stevens said. “But they love it. Everyone is really supportive.”

Stevens will do San Dimas, Redlands and then Flèche Wallonne, but not Flanders.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, 35

The current German national champ will return to Flanders this year with the #1 bib. But showing up at a big race really isn’t anything new for Teutenberg, who began racing at age 6 and has won hundreds of events since then. A sampling of her wins include multiple World Cups, 11 stages of Tour de l’Aude and six stages of the women’s Tour de France.

This year, Teutenberg is focusing on the spring classics, and then will take some time off to come back fresh for worlds in September.

“I want to be fit for the worlds, so I will take a bit more time off this year to reboot,” she said. “Last year I found that my body just couldn’t really cope that well anymore with the long season, so we’re trying prevent that.”

If Teutenberg was tired last year and can improve this season, the women’s peloton is in trouble — Teutenberg won 24 races in 2009.

This season she’s already racked up wins at the Merced criterium, road race and team time trial. Next, she returns as the defending champion at both San Dimas and Redlands.

Rene Wenzel, director

Former racer and longtime coach Rene Wenzel came on board with HTC women’s squad this year. Wenzel has coached hundreds of athletes over the years, with management experience at the U.S. national team, the powerhouse American pro team Saturn, and other squads. He and his then-wife Kendra started the coaching company that is now Wenzel Coaching in 1994.

“For how good our superstars are, I can’t improve on that,” Wenzel said. “My challenge, which I view in a positive way, is the new girls, and the young ones. I really like to be a part of helping them develop into the next superstars. I think that’s where my coaching and management value really comes into play. I can’t make Ina win more than she already has.”

HTC-Columbia roster:

Kim Andersen, USA

Judith Arndt, Germany

Noemi Cantele, Italy

Emilia Fahlin, Sweden

Chloe Hosking, Australia

Luise Keller, Germany

Evelyn Stevens, USA

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Germany

Ellen Van Dijk, Holland

Linda Villumsen, New Zealand

Adrie Visser, Holland

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