Team Columbia

Team Columbia

Cycling team infobox
teamname=Team Columbia

code= COL
base= USA
manager=Bob Stapleton
2004–2007 2007–2008 2008-
oldname=Team Telekom
T-Mobile-Team Team High Road Team Columbia

Team Columbia is a professional cycling team competing in international road bicycle races. In June 2008, Columbia Sportswear announced a three year sponsorship of the team beginning with the 2008 Tour de France. Prior to this they were without a name sponsor, and therefore chose the name of the company owning the team (Team High Road). The team participates in many editions of the annual Grand Tours of cycling, such as the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. Since 2005, the team has been one of the teams that compete in the new UCI ProTour.

The team was founded in 1991 as Team Telekom, sponsored by Deutsche Telekom. In 2004 their name changed to the T-Mobile-Team. It contains a total of 29 riders, 9 physiotherapists or nurses, 9 mechanics and service persons, and has 22 partners. The team is under the management of Bob Stapleton and Rolf Aldag. Former leaders include Olaf Ludwig, Walter Godefroot and Eddy Vandenhecke (managers), Luuc Eisenga (spokesperson) and Brian Holm, Allan Peiper, Valerio Piva and Jan Schaffrath (sports directors).


Team beginnings: 1988 - 1991

At the end of 1988, former World Champion Hennie Kuiper set up a German cycling team that was sponsored by the city of Stuttgart and rode on Eddy Merckx cycles. The team was called "Stuttgart-Merckx-Gonsor" for the 1989 season and had nine riders (which included Udo Bölts). At that time when there were no German cycling teams and the country's main cycling event, the Rund um den Henninger Turm had not been won by a German since Rudi Altig in 1970. During its first year of existence team rider Dariusc Kajzer brought the team its first success in the National Road Race Championships in Germany. The team became "Stuttgart-Mercedes-Merckx-Puma" in 1990 and Bölts continued the success of the team by becoming road race champion of Germany.

Team Telekom: 1991 - 2004

Deutsche Telekom came in as the main sponsor in 1991 and the team was known as "Telekom-Mercedes-Merckx-Puma". [cite web|url=|title=Inside Cycling: A 20-year dynasty comes to an end||accessdate=2007-12-11] According to an interview with Godefroot, it was Bölts’ 17th place at the 1991 Vuelta a Espana that prompted him to accept the Telekom management’s offer to take over the running of the team. Godefroot signed several riders including Classics specialist and 1991 Paris-Roubaix winner Marc Madiot. Bölts who was involved with the team since its beginnings in 1989 would stay with the team until 2003, continued building on the successes of the team by winning stage 19, the Queen stage of the 1992 Giro d'Italia. Jens Heppner continued this with his tenth place overall at the 1992 Tour de France. [cite web|url= |title=Walter Godefroot-Astana 2007|publisher=|accessdate=2007-12-11]

The Telekom team signed all the promising cyclists that were coming from Germany at that time and who were becoming successful. These included Jens Heppner and Christian Henn in 1992, Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag and Steffen Wesemann in 1993 and Jan Ullrich in 1994. Many of these riders would ride for more than ten years with the team. Olaf Ludwig also signed in 1993 and finished his career with the team. In 1994, the German sprinter Erik Zabel won the first UCI Road World Cup victory in the history of the team, the Paris-Tours.

In 1993 the team again achieved success in the national championship road race in Germany. This was the start of the team’s 11 year domination and possession of the German champion’s jersey. Many of the successful team riders that spent many years of their career with Telekom would become German national champions – Bernd Gröne in 1993, Jens Heppner in 1994, Bölts in 1990, 1995 and 1999, Christian Henn in 1996, Jan Ullrich in 1997 and 2001, Erik Zabel in 1998 and 2003, Rolf Aldag in 2000, Danilo Hondo in 2002 and finally Andreas Klöden in 2004.

The team soon became an important presence on the international cycling stage. However the team was not invited to the 1995 Tour de France. Eventually the organisers of the Tour agreed that six Telekom members six-man roster, namely Rolf Aldag, Udo Bölts, Jens Heppner, Vladimir Pulnikov, Erik Zabel and Olaf Ludwig would be joined with three members of the ZG Mobili to form a composite team. Zabel went on to win two stages in the race.

The next two years saw the international breakthrough of the team. Godefroot brought in Danish rider Bjarne Riis, the third place finisher of the 1995 Tour and he went on to win the 1996 Tour de France, with the then 22-year old German support rider Jan Ullrich finishing in second place. In addition, Zabel won the first of six green jerseys for winning the points competition. Bolts won the Clasica San Sebastian and Wesemann won his second and the first of four wins with the Telekom team of the famous stage race the Peace Race.

The 1997 Tour de France saw the emergence of Ullrich as he won the race with support from Riis, who in turn had won the World Cup race Amstel Gold Race earlier in 1997. Team Telekom also won the team classification, as the overall strongest team of the 1997 Tour. In addition, Bolts won the Dauphiné Libéré, Zabel won Milan-Sanremo for the first of four times with the team. Ullrich also won the Championships of Hamburg semi-classic. The following year this race was elevated to the status of World Cup. In addition the Deutschland Tour returned in 1999 – evidence of the continuing popularity of cycling in Germany at the time. While Ullrich had a crash in the race and was forced to retire, Team Telekom did win the first edition of the race with Heppner and would win the race again with Alexander Vinokourov in 2001.

Ullrich finished second in the 1998 Tour de France but went on to win the 1999 Vuelta a España, although he missed the 1999 Tour de France due to a knee injury. After winning the Vuelta, Ullrich became World time trial champion which enabled him to wear the rainbow jersey during time trials. He would win this again in 2001. The next year, Zabel won the overall World Cup victory, having won the Milan-Sanremo and Amstel Gold Race, while Ullrich placed second again in the 2000 Tour de France to Lance Armstrong. Ullrich won the gold medal in the Olympic road race and the silver medal in the Olympic time trial. In 2001, Zabel won Milan-Sanremo for the fourth time. Ullrich came in second in the 2001 Tour de France, while Zabel won six stages combined in the 2001 Tour and Vuelta. Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov won the Paris-Nice stage race in 2002, a feat he would duplicate in 2003, also winning the Amstel Gold Race and Tour de Suisse that year. As Ullrich left the team to form Team Bianchi in 2003, Vinokourov became team leader for the 2003 Tour de France. He finished in third place, just below the second placed Ullrich. Zabel won the 2003 Paris-Tours, while Italian rider Daniele Nardello took the Züri-Metzgete.

The team had a continuous presence at the top of the professional peloton and continued to sign the emerging German cyclists of the times with Andreas Kloden in 1998, Jorg Jaksche in 1999, Matthias Kessler in 2000 and Stefan Schumacher in 2002 to name but a few. In addition the team signed many successful non-German riders such as Georg Totschnig, Alexander Vinokourov, Cadel Evans, Santiago Botero and Paolo Savoldelli.

Film: Hell on Wheels - 2003 Tour de France from perspective of then-Team Telekom

In 2005 a film titled "Hell on Wheels" was released. It is a record of the 100th anniversary (but only the 90th running because of World War I and World War II) of the Tour de France in 2003 from the perspective of the then-Team Telekom. [ [ Blood, sweat and gears] , "The Sydney Morning Herald", May 27, 2005]

T-Mobile: 2004 - November 2007

From 2004, the team changed its name to T-Mobile. Jan Ullrich returned to the team. The team achieved a great number of success, among which was Steffan Wesemanns win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Coming up to the 2004 Tour de France, Kloden became German road race champion and Ullrich won the Tour de Suisse and raced the 2004 Tour de France as team leader, while Vinokourov did not ride the Tour de France for the team. Jan Ullrich finished fourth, while Andreas Klöden was the best placed rider of the team in second place. T-Mobile Team won the team classification, as the overall strongest team of the 2004 Tour. In the spring season of 2005, Vinokourov won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic race. Ullrich, as the team leader, finished 3rd overall in the 2005 Tour de France. Alexandre Vinokourov rode in support, and finished fifth as he won two stages, including the final stage on the Champs-Elysees. Italian rider Giuseppe Guerini also won a stage and T-Mobile Team matched their 2004 feat by once again winning the team classification in 2005. Zabel won the Paris-Tours for the third time at the end of the season.

In July 2005, during the 2005 Tour, Vinokourov's contract was running out and speculation was abundant if he was to stay with T-Mobile. With four days left of the 2005 Tour, he made an announcement that he would leave the team to pursue his own chances of winning the Tour de France as a team captain [ [ Vinokourov leaves T-Mobile Team] , "", July 20, 2005] and after the Tour he joined the Liberty Seguros team. [ [ Vinokourov to Liberty Seguros] , "", July 26, 2005] After 13 years with Team Telekom and T-Mobile Team, Erik Zabel also left in 2005 to ride for the newly formed Team Milram. [ [ Zabel and Petacchi team up for Milram] , "", September 23, 2005] Before the 2006 season, Walter Godefroot stepped down and Olaf Ludwig became the new T-Mobile team manager.

Doping scandals: 2006 - 2007

In the most controversial scandal since the 1998 tour, thirteen riders were expelled from the 2006 Tour de France stemming from a Spanish doping scandal, on the eve of Strasbourg prologue to the 93rd edition. Jan Ullrich, one of the favourites to win the race, was among those excluded from the Tour. Another T-Mobile rider, Oscar Sevilla, was also expelled, leaving the team starting with only seven riders.

On 9 July, the team announced the sacking its sporting director Rudy Pevenage for his implication with former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich in a Spanish blood-doping scandal. "The contract linking T-Mobile to Pevenage has been retrospectively stopped on 30 June," the team's general manager, Olaf Ludwig, said. [ [ "T-Mobile sack team boss Pevenage" BBC Sport 9 July 2006] ]

On July 21, 2006, T-Mobile fired Jan Ullrich from the team pending the doping investigation. [ [ Ullrich sacked by T-Mobile line-up] ]

At the 2006 Tour de France, T-Mobile won the team classification for the third consecutive year, Andreas Klöden reached the podium (3rd place) for the second time, Matthias Kessler won Stage 3, Serhiy Honchar won two individual time trials (Stages 7 and 19) and wore the yellow jersey for 3 days (after Stages 7-9).

After the Tour de France, the team completely changed; Team manager Olaf Ludwig left the team and was replaced by Bob Stapleton. Rolf Aldag, Alan Peiper and Tristan Hoffman became directeur sportifs. As already discussed Ullrich, Sevilla and Pevenage were dismissed from the team. Several riders who had been with the team for a long time such as Steffen Wesemann, Andreas Klöden and Matthias Kessler left or their contracts were not extended. Jörg Ludewig was put on suspension and his contract was not increased in connection with intention to dope previously in his career and before he joined T-Mobile. Eddy Mazzoleni who was in his first year for the team would also leave. The contracts of Bram Schmitz and Bas Gilling were not renewed. [cite web|url=|title=T-Mobile's new beginning -- but with whom?||accessdate=2008-05-05] Dr. Lothar Heinrich, the team doctor since 1995, and Dr. Andreas Schmid set up a new comprehensive testing system. Following the revelations that came out of the Operación Puerto investigation, Heinrich allegedly nearly quit the sport but instead he joined with Stapleton and other team staff to create a new system of internal controls and health checks that he insisted would demonstrate that T-Mobile riders were clean and to restore credibility to the sport. [cite web|url=|title=The Sunday Interview: T-Mobile’s Dr. Lothar Heinrich||accessdate=2008-05-05]

In May 2007, several former riders admitted to using banned substances (include EPO) while riding for the team in the mid 1990s, including Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag, Brian Holm, [cite web
title =Brian Holm also admits EPO doping | work | date =May 25, 2007 | url =
accessdate = 2007-05-28
] Bjarne Riis, [cite web
title =Former Tour de France winner Riis admits doping
date =2007-05-25
url =
accessdate = 2007-05-28
] Bert Dietz, Udo Bölts and Christian Henn including the seasons in which Riis and Ullrich won the Tour de France. [cite web | last =Starcevic | first =Nesha | title =Two more former Telekom riders admit to doping | work =Associated Press | date =May 24 2007 | url =;_ylt=AqmFvq1S49.Q8FxHCAQQP8N.grcF?slug=ap-germany-doping&prov=ap&type=lgns | accessdate = 2007-05-24] Team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich has also confessed to participating and administering banned substances. The latter was Team Telekom's sporting director until May 3, 2007 when he was suspended following allegations published in former team member Jef d'Hont's book. [cite web | last = | first =Nesha | title =Heinrich follows Schmid's confession | work | date =May 24 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-25]

In an effort to present a renewed image the team brought a young team to the 2007 Tour de France, and promoted a drug-free attitude and image. Despite this, team member Patrik Sinkewitz tested positive for elevated testosterone during a training camp. [] . The test results were only announced when Sinkiewitz had dropped out of the Tour because of injury. He was still in hospital when he was suspended from Team T Mobile, and was dismissed on 31 July 2007.

Team High Road: November 2007 - June 2008

In November 2007, Deutsche Telekom AG announced that it was to end sponsorship of professional cycling with immediate effect. The team continued under the name "Team High Road" through June 2008. [cite web
title = T-Mobile ends cycling sponsorship
publisher = BBC Sport
date = 2007-11-27
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-06
] The team changed nationality in February 2008, switching from Germany to the United States. [cite web| title=Press release : UCI ProTour Council meets in Geneva |url= |publisher=UCI | |date=2008-02-04 |accessdate=2008-02-05]

Team Columbia: July 2008 -

On June 15th 2008 Columbia Sportswear announced a three year sponsorship of the team beginning on July 5, the start of the Tour de France. The team's new name is "Team Columbia". The sponsorship includes both the men's and women's teams. The announcement of this new deal with Columbia coincided with a highly successful Tour, in which the team won 5 individual stages (four of which going to British sprinter Mark Cavendish) as well as team leader Kim Kirchen holding the yellow jersey for four days in addition to the green jersey. [cite press| title = Columbia Sportswear Announces Sponsorship | publisher = Team Columbia & High Road Sports, Inc | date = June 15 2008 | url =
accessdate = 2008-06-17

2008 ProTeam

As of December 24, 2007 [cite web |title=Riders |url= |accessdate=2007-12-24 |]

2008 National Championships

Team members took the win in several national championships in 2008. Current national champions include:
* Edvald Boasson Hagen - flagicon|NOR Norwegian Time Trial Champion
* Bert Grabsch - flagicon|GER German Time Trial Champion
* Adam Hansen - flagicon|AUS Australian Time Trial Champion
* Kim Kirchen - flagicon|LUX Luxembourg Time Trial Champion
* Marco Pinotti - flagicon|ITA Italian Time Trial Champion
* Frantisek Rabon - flagicon|CZE Czech Time Trial Champion

ee also

*List of Team Columbia riders
*List of teams and cyclists in the 2008 Tour de France
*List of Team Columbia wins
*2008 Tour de France
*Tour de France


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Team High Road Fanpage]
* [ High Road 2008 jersey]

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