- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 4 May 2009
Columbia-Highroad men’s team powered to their twentieth victory of the 2009 season on Friday, the team time trial in the Tour of Romandie.
The American squad’s victory in the 15 kilometre hilly stage placed their Czech rider Frantisek Rabon, winner of the opening prologue, back in the race lead. His team-mate Tony Martin is third overall, eight seconds behind.
Racing with two national time trial champions, (Rabon and Italy’s Marco Pinotti), Columbia-Highroad finished ten seconds ahead of closest rivals Caisse-D’Epargne.
"Our big goal coming here was to win the team time trial and we’ve achieved that," a delighted Rabon said later. "Getting me back into the lead was an extra bonus."
"It was an incredibly technical circuit, with six kilometres of climbing and a descent with a lot of roundabouts where we were touching speeds of 70kmh. But even if there were several individual time trial champions, team time trialling is a different discipline, you have to remember that. It’s never just about yourself in a team time trial. It’s about working as a unit, which is what we did well."
Rabon said he would do his best to defend the jerseys in Saturday’s mountainous stage even if climbing was not his strongest suit.
"I’ll defend my overall lead as best I can, but to be honest, it’s good that we’ve got four guys in the top ten, not just me, because that way the team is working for all of us and we’ve got a lot of options. Wearing yellow always gives you extra motivation, and that may help, too."
"We’ve got first and third overall and the white Best Young riders jersey on top of that, which is great," added team sports director Tristan Hoffman.
"It was a very technical course, and a 60 kilometre drive from the team hotel. But the riders checked it out twice on the bikes in the morning. Having National TT champions helps, but as Frankie said you don’t win these kinds of stages with one or two guys, it’s always a collective effort. Everybody helped."
The Giro d’Italia starts in just eight days time with a 20 kilometre team time trial and after their victory in the Tour of Romandie?s equivalent stage, hopes are high for a repeat performance in the Giro on May 9th.
"For the Giro team it’s great to get the win" Rabon pointed out. "Last year we made a few mistakes in the opening team time trial of the Giro and we didn?t win it. But now you can see the squad has stepped up a level."