Teams announced for the 2008 Tour de France

The Tour de France organizers have announced the teams which have been invited to participate in this years race.  The field will consist of 20 teams.  Each team will choose 9 riders to participate in the event, creating a total of 180 riders competing for the valued yellow jersey.  Even though the teams have been named, the riders have not.  Two riders that are noticeably missing, though, are Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer, 1st and 3rd place in the Tour de France last year.  Last year they rode for Team Discovery Channel, but their new team, Team Astana, was not included meaning the previous winner will not be allowed to defend his title.

I have watched the last several years cheering for The Discover Channel cycling team (formally the Postal Service cycling team) as the only US representative team in the race.  This year, despite the Discovery Channel team disbanding, the US will now be represented by 2 teams.

First, there is Team High Road.  They were formally the T-Mobile cycling team based out of Germany, but after T-Mobile withdrew as a sponsor, the team moved their headquarters to California and continued under the name High Road.  In my opinion, they are not as strong as they use to be, but they are not to be dismissed.  I am hoping to at least see George Hincapie and Michael Rogers riding from this team.  Both are extremely strong.  George has participated in a number of Tour de Frances already, and I am certain Michael Rogers would like to take another shot after having to drop out last year due to injury.  For Team High Road, I am also expecting to see Bradley Wiggins as well as Linus Gerdemann, who was the top rider for the T-Mobile team last year.

The other American team to participate is the Slipstream/Chipotle H30 cycling team.  I am extremely excited for them.  Until this year, they were just an American continental cycling team, meaning they would only participate in events held in the U.S.  They decided to move up this year to compete on the international level, attempting to fill the void left by Team Discovery Channel.   They have already been making their presence known in events already.  I am not certain they have the talent to win the race, but I would still consider them a threat.  The riders I really hope to see participate in the Tour de France from Slipstream would be David Zabriske, Christian Vande Velde, and David Millar.  Millar is the current British road cycling champion and Zabriske is the current US time trial champion.  I watched the 3 of them in the Tour of California a little while ago, and I think they work really well together.  Mix in Tyler Farrar with them along with Danny Pate to throw out on some flyers, and you have a good start.

Other than that, teams from 8 other countries will be included. Gerolsteiner and Milram from Germany, Quickstep and Silence – Lotto from Belgium, CSC from Denmark, Caisse d’Epargne, Euskaltel – Euskadi, and Saunier Duval – Scott from Spain, Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole, Cofidis Le credit par telephone, Francaise Des Jeux, AG2R – La Mondiale, and Agritubel from France, Barloworld from Great Britain, Lampre and Liquigas from Italy, and Rabobank from the Netherlands.

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