The team that sprung out of the defunct HTC squad last year today announced not only their roster but also the return of both title sponsors for 2013. Specialized who have some very high profile sponsorships on the men's side are apparently quite happy about the results of the women's squad as well. With the big breakout star of 2012, 29 year old Evelyn Stevens, returning to lead the team next year the bike-maker has the perfect spokesperson to promote their brand. One of the big goals of the bike-maker is to inspire more women to get involved in bikeriding and promote the sport to a whole new and rapidly expanding segment. Most would probably agree that Specialized-lululemon managed to do just that in it's premiere year with both active fan-communication and on-road results. lululemon who had already ben involved in some men's teams before also found a perfect platform not only to promote their sportswear but also to highlight yoga-based training through a team that speaks to their core target-audience.
Another of the eight remaining riders from this season is veteran sprinter Ina Teutenberg, who has otherwise been hinting that her racing days may be over. Luckily those rumors seem to have been exaggerated and to the joy of most fans she will be bringing her experience and winning attitude for at least another season. Most likely it will be a fluid transition into a new life as she has already taken on some trainer-duties, coaching previous teammate Chloe Hosking who leaves the team for Norwegian Hitec Products. Her value can't be underestimated though as a proven, dependable winner.
Also staying on are Katie Colclough, Ally Stacher, Lisa Brennauer, Ellen van Dijk, Trixi Worrack and Loren Rowney. Rowney who was a surprise sensation in her first european season could develop into a solid winner in even bigger races in 2013 if her progression continues. She and Colclough look primed to fill the role that Hosking previously had as the alternative sprint threat when Teutenberg is not around. Together with classics specialist Worrack they should keep the team scoring throughout the season even without departing veterans Clara Hughes and Amber Neben who are heading for retirement and Italian team PastaZara-Cogeas-Manhattan respectively.
The three new interesting additions to the eleven women squad are Tayler Wiles, Carmen Small and Gillian Carleton. Small is a veteran of the US scene, a climber and a proven winner who has a very strong 2012 behind her. Tayler Wiles has been testing her strengths in Europe with the US national team as well as racing for Exergy 2012 in the US. Being a strong timetrialer she should fit right in at Specialized-lululemon as they once again target the Team Timetrial at the Worlds in Florence 2013. Third newcomer is Canadian track-specialist Gillian Carleton who took a bronze at the London Olympics in the team-pursuit. She will now be making a full transition to the road and team manager Kristy Scrymgeour obviously sees enough talent in the 23 yearold to gamble on her. A second place in the prologue at the Exergy Tour certainly indicates she may be an interesting addition.
Overall it's great to see Specialized-lululemon back in 2013. Apart from having the winning Highroad genes the team and riders bring an enthusiasm and openness that is just what women's cycling needs. The team has really embraced new ways of connecting with fans and providing value for their sponsors in an environment where simply sitting back and hoping the results will speak for themselves is not a working strategy. Providing inspiration was always part of the objective and they look well set to continue doing so in a 2013that looks very bright for women's cycling. Post-Olympic depression seems very far off from the women's scene at the moment which is very refreshing after a lot of doom and gloom projections in the last few years.