we have won more races in 2008, 2009 and 2010 than any other team. Talented young stars and experienced leaders, working together to achieve success on the world stage. Our commitment to teamwork and to the best tools and technology has made us the world leader in victories. 412 wins since 2008
That’s from the marketing materials of Highroad, the structure behind the HTC-Highroad team. It makes great play of the team’s winning ways, that in 2010 the squad won more races than any other team, and this by a long way. This is a team that screams success in both the men’s and women’s teams.
So far this year only Rabobank has more wins. For 2011 the team is known as HTC-Highroad. The “Highroad” bit is the equivalent of “your name here”, an open invitation for a co-sponsor to come aboard and share in the team’s success.
What I find perplexing is that this team can’t get a co-sponsor. It’s a winning machine. It’s never troubled by scandal. The team is slick and professional, good at marketing and consistent with its wins throughout the season. If a squad like this is having trouble getting sponsor, it’s a concern for the whole sport.
It’s worth stating the team is financially well off, team owner Bob Stapleton is a billionaire. So the lack of a co-sponsor isn’t a threat to the squad’s survival. Also the presence of HTC is a big vote of confidence, the company even uses cycling imagery in its marketing?
The squad is packed with talent, despite prolific wins if anything it promises more than it delivers. For example Teejay Van Garderen could become a stage race winner. It’s not so much all the wins, it’s that many of their riders could get even better. But often talented riders leave, managing such a roster is not easy. Much of the team is built around Mark Cavendish and the British rider’s destination for 2012 will determine so much. If he stays (unlikely, things are a bit frosty with team boss Stapleton), then perhaps some stage racing talent looks elsewhere, knowing that every time Cavendish starts a grand tour, the wagons of his spring train will take up many places on the team; even Tony Martin was working for Cav last July. If Cavendish goes then the squad could rejig itself around Martin, Van Garderen and Peter Velits, whilst at the same time winning sprints thanks to others.
A luxurious dilemma
HTC-Highroad is in a position of strength. Most other team managers would love to worry about whether they become a top team for the classics and sprints, or plump for Grand Tour success. With a roster packed with talent and a billionaire owner it’s hard to say this team has problems. But if they haven’t got sponsors queuing up to get on the jersey, who does?