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“I don’t think either us or Cannodale would have been able to run a WorldTour team if there hadn’t been a deal,” 

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21.12.2014 @ 13:19 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Jonathan Vaughters, manager of Garmin-Cannondale has told Cyclingnews that had his Garmin-Sharp team not merged with Cannondale for the 2015 season, it is highly likely both teams would not have been around by the new year.

 

“I don’t think either us or Cannodale would have been able to run a WorldTour team if there hadn’t been a deal,” Vaughter said.

 

“We, us and Cannondale I mean, basically became friends because we were discussing how hard it had become to run teams in this environment. People might not realise this but when we got our UCI report back a couple of weeks ago – and our budget is a little under 20 million USD – the report showed us where we were on the spectrum and we were way below average, which is around 26 to 27 million USD. That reality is hard to sustain and so as we got talking Cannondale, they told us that they’d tried to do a couple of deals, one with Tinkoff, but each time they were afraid of losing control of the brand image and not having input into the team.”

 

It was a tough deal to make, but Cannondale became part of the Garmin team, brining over their green livery, their bikes and eight of their riders.

 

The beauty of the roster is that the team has no stars, but a list of very good riders capable of winning big races: Andrew Talanksy, Dan Martin, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Ryder Hesjedal immediately spring to mind. It will be interesting to see how Davide Formolo and Moreno Moser fair at the team, both men having come over from Cannondale. Formolo had a superb debut year, where he finished in the top ten in some big races like the Tour de Suisse, despite only being 22. Moser is a big talent, winning the Tour of Poland and Strade Bianche in the past, but in the last two seasons he has really petered out and it remains to be seen if Vaughters can reignite his career.

 

“There's no jewel in the crown. I mean if you look at our team we don’t have one single superstar. We’ve some damn good riders like Talansky and Martin, and we’ve got some great young talent but I think Cannnodale were attracted to the team because of our approach and structure,” he adds, returning to the principle of solidity that the team now has.

 

Vaughters has unhappy memories from the last time they took in lots of riders, from the Cervelo Test Team in 2010. They inherited Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler and were expected to challenge on all fronts, but the team never performed to their potential.

 

“That period was very contentious. Some of the riders perhaps didn’t like out management style and Cervélo was going through a difficult time in a financial sense and had an abrupt management change. It was a lot rougher in many ways than this move with Cannondale and the lessons learned from that are that you need to do your research on your partner."

 

“Also a lot of the riders who came over were established older riders, with older habits. I think the average age was over 30 and the age at Cannondale is around 23 or 24. They’re not set in their ways, we don’t have a world champion coming across and what I really like about the new guys is that they realise that the landscape of the sport has changed.”

 

But Vaughters is hopeful that this time is different, as he hasn’t inherited stars, but a bunch of young talents, like Moser, Formolo, Davide Villella, Matej Mohoric and Alberto Bettiol. Vaughters doesn’t get along that well with Italian riders, he has stated that much in the past, but he is really keen on Formolo.

 

“Most teams now speak English and these new guys know that this a great chance for them to learn the Anglo-culture. Formolo stands out though, doesn’t he? For me he’s so talented. I think Moser is as well but I think he was moved along a little too quickly and with a little bit more pressure. We need to focus him on the races that he’s good at and not drag him around too many events.”

 

Vaughters insists that despite the Cannondale influx, Slipstream will still remain his team and the team will remain the same. He has always employed an anti-doping policy, where he will allow ex-dopers to ride for him as long as they don’t dope while on his team or on any other teams for that matter.

 

“This is still Slipstream Sports and it’s still built on the ethics of fair racing and anti-doping,” Vaughters says when asked about the ethos and purpose of the team.

 

“Those are the foundations of the team and that’s been the same since day one. We don’t race around just one rider, and it’s all for one, one for all. We’re built on the same foundations with anti-doping and fair racing as the two most paramount principles, and then secondly we want to perform at the highest ability possibly but on a natural level."

 

“I don’t think that’s any different to when we first started out with this team. We’re still a bunch of young kids trying to succeed and we’re trying to give them the platform to do that and to be successful and, of course, never have to make the same decisions that will detract from that or they’ll have to live with ten years down the line. As soon as that part, changes there’s no point in Doug or myself being part of cycling anymore.”

 

Vaughters spoke on his team’s belief in second chances, given to riders like Hesjedal and Tom Danielson.

 

“Look it’s no secret, our head mechanic worked at US Postal. Our head of logistics worked at the team. I knew the people that we were hiring came from a team that had a pretty intense history. I knew that because I was involved in that history too,” he says.

 

“It’s true we ask for that [scrutiny] and still in ten years we’ve not had a rider dope on our team. Ever. We’ve lived up to that. That was the initial promise. If that ever is broken then Doug and I are out.”

 

“When I say racing is cleaner now, some people misinterpret that and say it’s bullshit because someone has gone positive but the fact of the matter is that the reason I stick by that statement 100 percent is because when I was racing at WorldTour level the choice was either to either dope or walk away,” he says.

 

“Now are there guys out there that are still potentially doping? Absolutely. Is the sport 100 per cent clean? That’s not for me to say but I think you’ll never reach perfection. But do I know definitively that guys with talent and who work hard can have successful careers now racing clean? Yes. And that wasn’t possible in the 1990s.”

 

Despite the recent positive tests from riders, Vaughters says that the sport is still restoring its credibility and is moving in the right direction. He has had plenty of opportunities to leave the sport that hurt him so much as a rider, but he still loves cycling and, more importantly, he loves his team.

 

“I still love the sport, I truly do. I don’t have to stay in cycling, it’s a choice and I just hope that over time the fans fall back in love with the sport. I thought about walking away, I did. I think the sport is going in the right direction but I think it’s hard to see that sometimes. And I get why people are distrustful. Maybe my passion for it doesn’t come across in interviews. I worry about that, honestly."

 

“But I’m truly genuine in my sincerity and I get the idea that there is this post USADA hangover but in my head there’s this voice that’s screaming that we’ve turned such a massive corner. It’s such a better place for young riders. Yes there are still problem, look at the young riders going positive at Astana but overall the picture is so different now. The fact that this reality isn’t told or isn’t there for the fans, that makes me sad and at points has made me want to walk away but I’m committed to this path and to Cannondale-Garmin.”

 

“This team was and is the love of my life,” Vaughters finally adds, “and there is no walking away.”

 

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