The HTC-Highroad women’s team appears set to live on in a new form for 2012. Sources tell VeloNews that a new management team has assumed the leadership and will take a number of riders to the new squad, which will be co-title-sponsored by Specialized and apparel company Lululemon.
“The project is pretty unique,” said a source familiar with the team, who asked not to be named because details of the new squad are not yet finalized. “For a bicycle company, something like this has never been done before. Carrying the bike manufacturer as the primary sponsor really shows the level of dedication our brand has for women’s cycling.”
Sources would not disclose a specific roster for the new squad, but did confirm that a significant portion of the core of the successful HTC team had signed. At least one high profile new signing is expected as well.
High Road Sports owner Bob Stapleton shuttered the HTC men’s squad in early August after his title sponsor search bore no fruit. At that time he said he hoped to continue on with the women’s team and staff continued their efforts to keep the roster intact.
“I’d like to come through for our girls,” Stapleton said in August. “They deserve it and the signing schedule is a little different for women, so there is still some more time.”
Stapleton could not be immediately reached and HTC press officer Kristy Scrymgeour declined to comment for this story. Stapleton is not involved directly with the new project, but sources confirm that High Road Sports will support the squad in some way.
The women’s team is particularly important with the 2012 London Olympics looming. Ten of the squad’s twelve riders competed at last week’s world championships in Copenhagen and the team will act as a launch pad for London-bound Olympians next summer.
World time trial champion Judith Arndt and American Amanda Miller are not among the riders joining the Specialized program. Miller told VeloNews that she has signed with another team after enjoying a breakthrough season in 2011, but could not yet disclose her new squad.