91st Giro d'Italia - Team Slipstream/Chipotle p/b
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
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
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
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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