Update from Gav! I received an update from Garmin-Cervélo today. According to the team, this list of eight is not officially confirmed. That is, the VeloNation list is based on information from around the internet, and did not come from the team directly. The official team roster will roll out next week.
It's been all quiet on the Garmin-Cervélo women's team front for a while, but we've finally got some news. And although in the last week, following a mini twitter-campaign that culminated in Gav writing all about it, and finally getting a result, we were promised that news would come out "soon", it's not come via the team's PR, or their website, but via an interview with the fabulously frank Lizzie Armitstead, in Velonation. You really should read that interview, it's great, but it does suggest some worrying things about the new team. I'm not sure whether this is the final team iteration, or just the riders we know about, but Velonation list 8 riders who'll be riding for the team for 2011.
From Cervélo 2010: Lizzie Armitstead, Sharon Laws, Emma Pooley, Iris Slappendel
New to the team for 2011: Noemi Cantele, Jessie Daams, Lucy Martin, Trine Schmidt
At first it seems like a drop of nearly half the team - but I also wondered if this is just the riders we know are definitely riding - and although I have been worrying about who else there is to sign, at the same time I recognise how hypocritical I am, given that this time last year I was whining about how Cervélo and HTC were too damn strong, and it would be better for the peloton if the talent was more spread around...
Below the jump, I'll tell you a bit more about the implications - and some of the rationale from Gerard Vroomen from twitter. I'll say one thing about all this - although I, and others, have been grumpy with the radio silence from the Garmin-Cervélo machine, Vroomen himself is fabulous. I'm just a fan, but he's still tweeted back to me & explained his thoughts, and that's an amazing thing about cycling!
I know that some of you will be thinking that we're insane for expecting any information at all about the women's team, because even the most crazed fangirls among us (me) can't think the women's team will have the same level of importance to the company as the men's. But if you are thinking that, let me explain some of the context. From the moment the teams were launched, Cervélo ran the men's and women's teams as part of the same family, siblings, if you like - equal but different. As HTC were doing, they ran joint team camps, they promoted the team as unified, celebrated the achievements of both sides, and even presented the team website as if they had one team. They may not have been perfect (it took a while to get the first Beyond the Peloton film for the women, for instance), but as with so many things about Cervélo's first season, they set a new standard for others to aim at, and in doing so, presented a new ideal for fans of the women's race. So one of the things we're definitely dealing with is an issue of raised expectations, which may help any of you who think we're being harsh understand my point of view. I'm not comparing to an unrealistic ideal, I'm comparing to the reality from the last two years. And you also need to remember that for the last few years, we've had what feels like an endless stream for bad news, with teams folding and races collapsing on a regular basis, in the women's peloton.
Cervélo really were a super-team on the women's scene. With 14 riders, they had enough to send specific teams to races - a scary-fast sprint team for the flat, and the most incredible team of mountain goats for the climbing races - and a frighteningly good mixed team for the big stage races. They had enough riders like Claudia Häusler to take time off to study, and return for key races, in the same way that the top men can pick and choose their races. So moving from 14 to a possible 8 would be a big step backwards, and also means that the riders who've had the luxury of specialising would have to move into generic roles - although we saw Emma Pooley riding as sprint lead-out at the Commonwealth Games, it doesn't make sense for a rider of her climbing calibre to be doing that full-time.
But once i got over my initial disappointment, I did look a bit closer, and question whether this really is the final make-up of the team. Velonation's words were