Yesterday, at the Tour team presentation ( and technically a couple of hours previously for detail sticklers) Garmin-Sharp unveiled their new jersey, giving the team an impressive run of having managed a somewhat ridiculous four kits in the past two years, and that figure increases to eight in three if we include the amalgamated Cervelo Test Team.
Slipstream, the default name for Garmin, have been around since 2003 – a development project initiated by Jonathan Vaughters, sponsored by a magazine based in Denver, Colorado, where most of the team was based, and named after the city’s height above sea level in feet, 5280. The following year, a financial company came on board to boost the team, and it began to build and develop its young squad with a basis and tagline of being a 100% clean team.
In 2008 however, the team began its main phase of restructuring and marketing, with a dominant Slipstream brand emblazoned on the jersey, a huge degree of fan involvment, and a great deal of recruiting. Slipstream bought in Julian Dean, David Millar, Magnus Backstedt, Dave Zabriske, Tom Danielson, Ryder Hesjedal, Christian Vandevelde and Tyler Farrar amongst others to try and break into the big time – a ride in the Tour. They even allowed their fans, besotted with thei argyle patterning, to design their kit – the winner though, oddly, never got worn, with a different kit being used at the Giro, where the team won the TTT to take Pink, before Garmin stepped in for the 2008 Tour.
Officially named Garmin-Chipotle powered by H30, Garmin did well for their debut, elevating Christian Vandevelde to 4th place and almost winning stages with Will Friskhorn. In doing so, they made Lance Armstrong think he could still win the Tour as a combination of slow speeds and relative unknowns in the top 10 convinved the Texan to return. The following year, 2009, saw the return of the Argyle pattern, as well as Bradley Wiggins, who equalled Vandevelde’s 4th place after the latter broke his collarbone at the Giro, amongst other things. Meanwhile, Canadian company Cervelo had decided that they needed an outlet to test equipment, and having been dropped by CSC in 2009, they set up their own team, and poached defending Tour Champion Carlos Sastre from CSC in the process, as well as Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler. Whilst Sastre couldnt quite repeat his Tour success after two stage wins in the Giro as the team also sought a wild card, Hushovd and Haussler podiumed at Milan-San Remo as the teams powerful full team attack tore races to shreds.
Meanwhile, Garmin were struggling to keep their new prize asset, Bradley Wiggins, from moving to Sky, despite his insitence that Sky were ‘Manchester United’ and Garmin ‘Wigan’. He eventually went in December for a great deal of cash, the first rider to not honour a contract properly, and flopped at Sky for a year, whilst Garmin got. Cervelo had ran rampage, having changed to a new kit for the Tour, an all white ensemble, as both Haussler and Hushovd won stages and Hushovd took the Green Jersey from Cavendish thanks to some extreme climbing talent. Aside from that, Garmin were more likely to be seen with Tyler Farrar as ‘sprinter for team Garmin Transitions…during a race, I need to protect my eyes from changing light and UV rays…’ in a sunglasses advert that is forever stuck in my head.
2010 brought more sucess for the teams, as whilst Hushovd could quite take the Green jersey again, Garmin managed to haul Hejesdal to 6th place. But hang on, you say – they werent on the same team? Indeed, but not for long. Cervelo were in trouble – whilst their experiment was atremendous success, they did not have the financial power to mantain it. They brought in a new sponsor for the Tour, Tata Consultancy services, which barely registered in the Jersey, another new Tour one, and then changed the kit slighlty post tour to give the sponsor some presidence. Unfortunately, the team was not to last, and ironically, their last major win was Hushovd’s worlds triumph. And so the team of the World CHampion folded, without truely having the opportunity to display the Cervelo name on the rainbow jersey.
However, Garmin stepped in and took over both the men and womens teams, giving Cervelo co-sponsor status, as they replaced Felt, and introducing a much anticipated jersey that fell below expectations – whilst the cervelo black remained, the blue accents werent quite as cool. The team did well with the new World Champion on board though, using him as bait to ensure Johan Van Summerun would take a thrilling Paris Roubaix, but ensuring Hushovd would leave at the end of the year. In what was becoming a Castelli trend, the jersey changed for the Tour again, and the team finally got the success they wanted – 4 stages, including their beloved Team Time Trial, and the yellow jersey for a week. Still, change was to come by the end of the year.
Hushovd left, and the team reformed around its GC riders, taking the Giro with Hejesdal before Sharp stepped in to push Barracuda, who had been title sponsor for just 6 months, to 3rd place on the Jersey. Hejesdal reckons he can win the Tour, Sharp must hope so too. However, a stage win or King of the Mountains (not through Dan Martin though) is more likely for the Argyle Armarda.