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No Highroad team sponsorship announcement … yet

2011 Tour de France, stage 11: Mr. 18 (for now)
Cavendish celebrates win number 18 at the Tour. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

LAVAUR, France (VN) — HTC-Highroad team owner and manager Bob Stapleton is always proud of his riders, and he said it was just good luck that he made his first appearance at this year’s Tour de France on the day that his super-sprinter Mark Cavendish took his third stage win of the race. “That was all Mark Cavendish and good teamwork. I can’t take any credit for that,” he said Wednesday after the stage 11 finish.

“I think this is like our 49th grand tour stage win in the last four years,” Stapleton added. “We want to make it 50 wins before the Tour is over. I think we should be able to do that.”

Stapleton, who lives in San Luis Obispo, California, said he wanted to be at the Tour for the whole three weeks but he’s had deep-vein thrombosis in a leg that has prevented him making so many cross-Atlantic back-and-forths this year. He said it wasn’t because he was tied up in discussions on seeking a new title sponsor to finance the world’s most successful UCI ProTeam after the current HTC contract ends on December 31 this year.

“I don’t have any announcements to make, so that’s all that really matters.” Stapleton said about clinching a possible new sponsor to replace HTC, the Taiwanese-based mobile phone company.

Asked if the team’s three new Tour stage wins has helped with his ongoing sponsor negotiations, Stapleton said, “This is when the world’s eyes are on cycling. The month of July is the Tour de France worldwide. I think this success gets magnified a hundred-fold from what you may get earlier in the season. And that’s important, when people can see what it would be like to have a big team in the sport.”

“I think the success has (made a difference to our talks), yes,” he concluded. “When you can show you can do it year in and year out, that’s really what people want to buy. A consistently good program.”

Indeed, it’s much too good a program to end. And the lilt in Stapleton’s voice Wednesday evening makes one believe that some good news, and that announcement, is not too far away.

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