2014 Team Previews: Garmin Sharp

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Who are the sponsor? Garmin make GPS navigation equipment, Sharp make electrical items such as televisions.

Nationality: American

2013 Ranking: 8th

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Past Stars: Bradley Wiggins, Heinrich Haussler, Thor Hushovd, Sep Vanmarkce, Fredrik Kessiakoff, Svein Tuft, Magnus Backstedt.

Selected Team Palmares: 1st, 2012 Giro d’Italia (Ryder Hesjedal) Stages, Tour de France (2011×2, Tyler Farrar and TTT, 2012, David Millar) Stages, Giro d’Italia (2010×2, Tyler Farrar, 2012, TTT), Stages, Vuelta a Espana (2009, 2010×2, Tyler Farrar) 2011 Paris-Roubaix (Johan Vansummeren), 2013 Liege Bastonge Liege, 2013 Volta a Catalunya, stage, 2013 Tour de France (All Dan Martin), Stage, 2013 Giro d’Italia (Ramunas Navardauskas)

Brief Team History: Garmin have developed mainly since 2008, when they became Slipstream with the promise of promoting clean cycling when they signed a raft of big names such as David Millar, Magnus Backstedt, David Zabriske and Christian Vandevelde. They kept plugging away at team time trials and won the Giro opening TTT to take the pink jersey at their first Grand Tour, then proceeded to offer the ‘suprise of the Tour’ each year, first with Christian Vandevelde coming 4th in 2008, the Bradley Wiggins coming 4th in 2009, Ryder Hesjedal managing 8th in 2010 and Tom Danielson 9th in 2011. Tyler Farrar briefly emerged as Cavendish’s main competition, as their classics riders, mainly drawn from the merger with Cervelo Test Team in 2011, gave them some good results although Vaughters quickly fell out with Hushovd, Vanmarcke and co for some reason. They teamed up with Barracuda and Sharp to win their first Grand Tour suprisingly with Ryder Hesjedal, before the Lance Armstrong scandal saw them returning to form as a large section of the team was banned, albeit in the offseason, as it turned out the team had essentially been keeping some pretty major information from everyone. But it was all ok, apparently.

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Last year: With a defending Giro champion, and with a swansong year for the American old guard who had decided to slink away from the team after their past doping was unveiled. It  took them until March to win a race, albeit a stage of Paris-Nice, which Talanksy finished 2nd in, before Hesjedal’s Giro defence collapsed into acrimony as he abandoned after some earlier strong signs. Navardauskas won a stage however, whilst meanwhile in Catalunya, Dan Martin won the local Tour, after winning Liege Bastonge Liege thanks to a set up by Hesjedal. Martin then won a stage at the Tour as Garmin managed their obligatory top 10 with Talanksy, before the season petered out a bit, although a big spring classic and Grand Tour stages were a good return. Farrar and Van Hoffe racked up lots of 2nds and 3rds, Danielson won the Tour of Utah, and Martin would have got on the podium of the Tour of Lombardy if he hadnt fallen off on the last corner.

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Transfer dealings: Acevedo is brought in as a token Colombian given all teams seem to have one these days, as is Tour Down Under winner Tom Jelte-Slagter and classics man Sebastian Langeveld. They have however lost some good riders in Michael Kreder, Sebastian Roessler, Robbie Hunter, Martin Masskant and Alex Rasmussen. Vandevelde and Zabriske have retired, which means that a mere 14% of the team are past dopers, rather than the 26% they had in 2013, all the while preaching about their Anti-doping credentials and trying, it seemed, to keep much of it underwraps.

Who are the star riders? As much as they insist on an American identity, Irishman Dan Martin is the star, even if he isn’t treated like it. He can win all the hilly classics and can do a reasonable Grand Tour, although his time trialling lets him down. Someone who is strong at TTing is Andrew Talanksy, who rode to 10th in the Tour in 2013, although that was aided by a couple of breakaways. He is a strong punchy climber though, perhaps more suited to week long stage races. Garmin also hold Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, although his past doping admission has meant that title doesn’t have the same ring it used to. Speaking of doping, the team still has TT rider David Millar, Dutchman Thomas Dekker, and past great Tour hope Tom Danielson on the team, all of whom have admitted to doping in the past. In better news, they have good strong riders like Ramanus Navardauskas and Nathan Haas, as well as middling sprinters Tyler Farrar and Steele Van Hoffe. They also have a good classics squad, with Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren, Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens, and Het Volk winner Sebastian Langeveld.

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It’s worth pointing out that Talansky only wore White into Paris because of Quintana leading the KOM competition.

Fashion police: Keeping it pretty much the same, they’ve changed the back of the jersey to an asymmetric design with a red and white stripe to make themselves more identifiable to helicopter shots. They have a much hyped connection to the WWF now, which you wouldn’t know unless they told you given the logo is hidden on the flank. The back looks better then the front, and even that is a bit messy.

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What are their targets? Getting Talanksy to become a Tour contender and Martin to the Ardenne classics in the same form as last year. Otherwise, just putting everyone in breaks and hoping their strength will keep ge them some wins. Probably also hoping they don’t have to bring any other riders past up, as it’s getting beyond a joke how many skeletons they have in the closet.

What are they likely to achieve? Talansky is a good rider, who has a better chance then Van Garderen at being a US Tour winner, although he needs some time to develop, so don’t expect him to be on the podium or anything daft, although he could win something like Paris-Nice. Dan Martin is entering his peak years and as long as they keep him in the hilly classics and dont try and make him ride for a GC Grand Tour, he should win something or at the very least podium in the Monuments. They’ll probably pick up a few ins with their lesser known riders as well.

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Components: With kit made by Castelli that is aero, the idea is continued in Cervelo’s S5 aero model, as well as the R5 climbing/cobbles frame. Shimano, Rotor and 3T provide the components. As well as Argyle kit, they now wear POC Helmets, as if they aknowledge that they are now the team who make appalling fashion choices.

The Big Question(s): Are there any more Skeletons in the closet? Can Hesjedal return to his 2012 Vintage? Can Martin keep up his scintillating hilly form?

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