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91st Giro d'Italia - Team Slipstream/Chipotle p/b HO3
By Staff
Date: 5/10/2008
91st Giro d'Italia - Team Slipstream/Chipotle p/b HO3

91st Giro d'Italia - Team Slipstream/Chipotle p/b HO3
Jonathan Vaughter's Argyles are set to start their first Grand Tour with a fast legged international crew to battle on the corsa rosa.

By: Andrew Kappes

Just when you thought an American team would not be at the start line of a grand tour, Slipstream answered the call. Slipstream-Chipotle Presented by H30 will be in Italy for the Giro d'Italia, in addition to this summer's Tour de France. The team, run by ex-Postie Jonathan Vaughters, has been the main American presence in the European peloton along with High Road. This will be the team's first Grand Tour, but many riders on the squad are Grand Tour vets.

The nine riders of Slipstream are among the top teams expected to have a rider in the Maglia Rosa tomorrow when dust clears after the stage 1 team time trial.

Giro Team Presentation, Slipstream's National Champions David Millar (England), Magnus Backstedt (Sweden), and Julian Dean (New Zealand)

Magnus Backstedt will take the honor of wearing Slipstream's 181 bib number. The Scandinavian has brought his skill and expertise to Slipstream. The 2004 Paris-Roubaix winner will not contend for the overall, but he will be looking for a win on the hilly stages. He has had success in a grand tour, winning Stage 19 in the 1998 Tour de France.

Team Presentation in Palermo, Vaughter's Raiders take the stage.

Slipstream - Chipotle p/b H30
2008 Giro d'Italia Squad

181 Backstedt Magnus Swe
182 Dean Julian Nzl
183 Hesjedal Ryder Can
184 Millar David Gbr
185 McCarty Jonathan Patrick Usa
186 Pate Danny Usa
187 Sutton Christopher Aus
188 Vandevelde Christian Usa
189 Zabriskie David Usa

New Zealand's Julian Dean will be Slipstream's sprinting hope along with Aussie Chris Sutton at the Giro. Like his boss Vaughters, Dean is a former US Postal rider, riding for the team from 1999-2001. The New Zealand road race champion has not had many chances for victories in previous grand tours, holding the role as the lead out man for Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd. He finished second overall at the 2004 Tour of Britain, winning the points jersey. He also won the 2003 Tour de la Region Wallonne.

David Millar is one reason why Slipstream is one of the best time trialing teams in the world. He's won five stages at a grand tour, three at the Tour de France, and two more at the Vuelta a Espana. He will be the main catalyst at the opening team time trial, but Millar is just one of several riders on the team with razor sharp skills in the race against the clock.

Christian Vandevelde has spent a good portion of his career helping the likes of Carlos Sastre and Lance Armstrong up mountains and into leader's jerseys. He has never placed higher than 24th at a grand tour (2006 Tour de France), but one can only wonder what could have been if he'd been the leader of a team. He will get his chance for Slipstream, representing their main climbing hope. He's had a hot start in 2008, finishing in third overall at the Tour of California in February, and then showing increased form at second at the Circuit de la Sarthe stage race. This may be the 31-year old's best shot at a leader's jersey.

USA Time Trial Champ David Zabriskie. Photo 2008 Action Images

American cycling fans were excited to see the colorful Dave Zabriskie move from powerhouse CSC to Slipstream last fall. He is another weapon in that Slipstream time trialing machine, and has shown in the past he can hold his own in a stage race itself. Last year, he finished an impressive fifth overall at the Tour de France's main prep race, the Dauphine Libere. He also finished third in the Giro's 20th stage last season. Dave Z is one of the few Americans to have worn the yellow jersey, doing so in the 2005 Tour de France before crashing. He will be looking to add to his count of three stage victories in a grand tours, all while in the red, white, and blue national time trial champion jersey.

Talking about fast legs in the contra la montre Danny Pate a U-23 world champion can't be overlooked; at the tour of Georgia Danny was the go to man driving the pace out of the gate for the team. Finally exhausting himself he dropped off the back of the team but still finished well up in the standings.

Canadian Ryder Hjesdal is an all round rider who has proven himself racing in Europe with an amazing consistency. Hjesdal will be strong support in all phases of the race; don't count him out for a stage win given an opportunity. Already in the early season he has posted strong results 3rd in GP Marseillaise, tenth in the tough Eroica, and a solid 8th on the G.C. in Tirreno-Adriatico.

Christopher Sutton of Australia is a three time national champion on road and track, he will be invaluable in sprint leadouts for the fast legs - Backstedt and Dean in the sprint finishes. The 24 year old former Cofidis rider showed well at the Tour of Qatar in the early season with a 4th on the G.C., Tour du Poitou  Charentes, 1st, Stage 1.

Slipstream brings a great supporting cast as well. With this team, they can go far and contend amongst the Pro Tour. Americans will have plenty to root for, High Road, Levi and his Astana team, but there will be a special spot in the hearts of many for Slipstream. Jonathan Vaughters hopes this is just the beginning of the team's European Grand Tour successes.

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