To all of the fans of Cannondale Pro Cycling Team: Happy New Year!
While we work on updating our 2016 website, I figured I'd pen a short note to all of the people who support us. The biggest point of this little letter is to express how excited we are about our team for 2016. While 2015 brought many challenges for such a young team and two diverse organizations, 2016 will be the fruit of our time in the trenches last year. The lessons learned will be put into action in what is still the youngest WorldTour team out there.
Slipstream Sports went through many mergers, changes and tough times in the decade behind us. We've always adapted and performed to our maximum, while charting an unusual and distinctive course through the perilous world of professional cycling. That's what makes 2016 so unique for us. We finally could strategically design our roster from the bottom up. Instead of trying to force pieces into place, the puzzle this time was designed to clip nicely together.
We had many young, talented riders in 2015, such as Davide Formolo, Dylan van Baarle, and Joe Dombrowski. However, we didn't have many true mentor figures to guide these young talents. Now, we have a few wise additions to give the team direction on the road. Matti Breschel and Simon Clarke are both individuals that command respect and have experience. Their captaincy will help guide our young talents in the direction we need to help them become winners.
Some of our leaders have also changed for 2016. I cannot say enough positive things about my initial experiences with Rigoberto Uran and Pierre Rolland. Rigo is a consummate professional - always fit and ready to lead the team, always happy and always willing to help out our young talents. He's had two close misses in the Giro in 2013 and 2014. For 2016, we will put all of our resources toward Rigo going one step higher in May. Pierre, or as he became known at camp as "Tequila", Rolland is a greatly underestimated talent in the world of cycling. Revamping his training, aerodynamics, and focus has been a pleasure. The improvements made have been enormous, almost as if he was a first year professional learning about a whole new world. His open and fun attitude has been a great addition. I am certain Pierre will make our fans happy in the 2016 Tour de France.
We have a sprint game for 2016! With powerful and experienced riders like Sebastian Langeveld leading our efforts, we've got a pure sprinter in Wouter Wippert, a smaller group sprinter in Patrick Bevan, an up-and-comer in Alberto Bettiol and an experienced Matti Breschel to assist. It should be interesting to see how this group of underdogs can take on the big names of the sprint game. First up: Tour Down Under!
Finally, even though we did focus on bringing more experience to our group, we will still give a few new talents the chance to shine in the WorldTour. Amongst our new talents, Mike "Rusty" Woods is my new hero. He knows how to make hard won gains and how to be a true professional. He's hard as nails yet a very insightful and intelligent young man. I cannot express how excited I am to see him surprise many in the big show. Toms Skujins earned his way into the WorldTour the hard way, winning the Americas Tour along the way. Ryan Mullen will also raise a few eyebrows in his maiden cobbled classics campaign. Plus, it's always good to have the luck of the Irish on your side!
It's been my great pleasure to put such an interesting and diverse group of young athletes together. They are all driven, focused, and honorable men, and I am proud to be helping them towards success in 2016. In a decade, I have never seen a group so determined to prove we are one of the best teams in the world. They are the underdogs and they love the challenge in front of them.
So, cheer on Cannondale Pro Cycling Team in 2016 with all your heart, as I guarantee these guys will be giving it hell!
Oh and they look great while doing it, too. Learn all about the Castelli-designed kits we'll be sporting all season here.