Garmin-Slipstream signs six new riders for 2010
By Charles Pelkey
With this year’s expiration of UCI restrictions on public disclosure of new signings, the Garmin-Slipstream team has announced the addition of six new riders to its roster for 2011, including American Tom Zirbel and classics specialist Johan Van Summeren.
The team has also signed Barloworld’s sprint specialist Robbie Hunter, Fuji-Servetto’s Fredrik Kessiakoff, moved Peter Stetina up from its U23 counterpart, the Felt-Holowesko Partners squad, and signed 21-year-old Michel Kreder, who currently rides for the Rabobank Continental team.
“We’re poised for another exciting year with these riders rounding out an already strong roster,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports.
Vaughters characterized Zirbel, who finished second to future teammate Dave Zabriskie in last week’s national time trial championship, as “the best rider on the domestic circuit.” Zirbel, who currently rides for the Bissell team, leads the National Racing Calendar standings heading into the series’ final weekend.
The 28-year-old Van Summeren has been a fixture on the Silence-Lotto team since 2005, working as a support rider for team leader Cadel Evans in major stage races and as a contender in one-day events. He has twice finished among the top-ten in Paris-Roubaix, most recently finishing fifth in this year’s edition.
Vaughters said the signing of 32-year-old Robbie Hunter underscores the team’s commitment to developing a strong lead-out team for Garmin’s top sprinter Tyler Farrar. The South African will join New Zealander Julian Dean as a key element in the team’s efforts to secure stage wins. Vaughters said that Garmin will also look to Hunter for his own stage wins throughout the year.
Although not widely known, the 29-year-old Kessiakoff, said Vaughters, is one of the most talented climbers in the peloton. The four-time Swedish mountain biking champion made the switch to road racing in 2009, finishing fourth in the Tour de Langkawi and ninth overall in the Tour de Romandie.
Vaughters described the 21-year-old Kreder as a climber who can also sprint, noting that Garmin will look for him to perform in one-day races and stage races. His younger brother Raymond currently rides for Slipstream’s Felt-Holowesko Partners U-23 team.
Stetina, a member of the Felt squad, is a two-time U23 national time trial champion and has ridden with Slipstream-operated teams since he was a 15-year-old member of the old 5280 team.
“We started the team with the goal of developing young talent, so Stetina and Kreder are natural fits for us,” Vaughters said. “We’ll continue to build on the success Tyler’s had by giving him more lead-out guys, and the success that (Bradley Wiggins) and Christian (Vande Velde) have had in the mountains by adding talented climbers. But make no mistake, the riders on this list are all capable of stage wins and one-day race victories. 2010 is shaping up to be a big year for us.”
On Monday the team also announced the addition of a new “major” sponsor, POM Wonderful, the U.S. producer of pomegranate juice and other products.
Vaughters declined to provide details of the new sponsorship deal, but said that POM Wonderful’s support of the team is “substantial” adding that the company’s role may expand in the future.