In 2008 Team Columbia-Highroad was voted “Team of the Year” by Procycling magazine and “Best International Team” and “Best International Women’s Team” by VeloNews, along with other awards such as Best Rookie – Tony Martin and Best sprinter- Mark Cavendish. In a triumphant year for the team the men notched up a remarkable total of 84 wins during the season, while the Women’s squad won 64. Both teams won more races than any other competing team.
From the early-season Tour Down Under in Australia through the Dutch and Belgian Classics, from the bunch sprints in the Tour de France to the mountain-top finishes of Switzerland and Germany, Columbia’s men and women have always have been competitive. No matter where the victories were taken, Team Columbia has retained their strong emphasis on team unity and cohesion, the nurturing of talented young riders and winning fairly and clearly across the world.
A highlight of the year was certainly the six stage wins at the Tour de France and the possession of the yellow, green and white jerseys simultaneously. Others included the four stage wins at the Giro d’Italia, the overall and four stages of the Deutschland Tour, three stages and the overall of the Tour de Georgia as well as the Fleche Wallone Classic in Belgium, Coppa Agostini in Italy, and a World Time Trial Title earned by Bert Grabsch.
Special mention should be made of Mark Cavendish, whose three stage victories at the tour as well as his 17 season victories confirmed him as the world’s top male sprinter. Kim Kirchen rose beyond expectation to win Fleche Wallone in April and go on to have a very successful Tour de Suisse and Tour de France. Andre Greipel started strongly at Tour Down Under and continued his success throughout the season with 15 season-wins with his German teammate Bert Grabsch dominating time trials, finishing the season as World Time Trial Champion. The team’s young riders also put on a show with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Thomas Lovkvist, Tony Martin and Morris Possoni all excelling throughout the season.
The women’s team finished the season ranked number one in the world with twelve of the 13 riders winning races during the year. Judith Arndt won three rounds of the World Cup and the Series overall as well as Tour of Montreal, the Thueringen Tour and Giro della Toscana. She topped of the season with medals in both the TT and the RR at World Championships.
Young Luise Keller won the German Championships for the second year running, as well as the 8-day Route de France and her young teammates Emilia Fahlin and Linda Villumsen also took home National Titles in Sweden and Denmark respectively. Cavendish’s counterpart on the women’s team, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg had a remarkable season, scoring 24 victories to make her the “winningest” rider in the team. Overall the women’s team won 50% of the races they competed in.
With such a successful season over, the team now looks forward to the start of the 2009 season with the hope and aim to continue to develop and continue to succeed. The year will start with a team training camp in Mallorca, Spain, and a National Championships for the three Australian’s in the men’s team followed shortly after by Tour Down Under.
The team of 27 men and 11 women comes from 18 different nations in 2009 and consists of nine national champions, three world champions and the top young talent of the present and the future.