ProTour team operator High Road Sports has announced that it is reversing its sponsors’ names this year, meaning that this year it will race under the HTC-Columbia name.
No reasons were given for the switch, although presumably it is designed to give slightly more emphasis to smartphone brand HTC, which came on board as team sponsor shortly before last year’s Tour de France, memorably celebrated by Mark Cavendish as he made a phone-to-ear gesture as he crossed the line to take Stage 3 of the race.
Most of the team, which last season won no fewer than 285 men’s and women’s races, the highlights being Cavendish’s six stage wins in the Tour de France and his thrilling victory over Cervélo TestTeam’s Heinrich Haussler in Milan-Sanremo, are currently engaged in a pre-season camp in Mallorca.
But others will be taking part in the Santos Tour Down Under, which starts this Sunday, where it will be led by Andre Griepel, who last year won four stages and the points jersey in the Vuelta. Joining Griepel will be Australians Michael Rogers and Matthew Goss, New Zealand’s Hayden Roulston, Germany’s Bert Grabsch and the Austrian, Marcel Sieberg.
Team owner Bob Stapleton added that the team’s white, black and yellow colour scheme had been given a tweak for 2010 – the main difference seems to be that HTC now appears above Columbia’s name, and the jerseys retain the green flashes that helped complement the points jerseys worn respectively by Cavendish and Griepel during the Tour de France and Vuelta in 2009.
HTC CEO Peter Chou expressed satisfaction with his company’s sponsorship of the team to date, saying: “"We are very pleased with the powerful entrance of the HTC brand into cycling at the Tour de France in 2009. With six stage wins at the Tour and many other victories by this team's men and women throughout the rest of the season, it was a valuable part of our successful global brand launch."
Sportswear brand Columbia is now in its third year sponsoring the team, and its CEO, Tim Boyle, was similarly enthusiastic, stating: "Team HTC-Columbia was named the number one team by cycling influencers in 2009 and features a roster of exceptional athletes. We are looking forward to another outstanding year for the riders of Team HTC-Columbia in 2010."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.