Tour de France 2008 team guide

Who's who in this year’s Tour

The 2008 Tour de France will be contested by 20 teams – one less than last year – of nine riders. All of the squads are ProTour teams

(the teams that compete in the UCI’s ProTour series of 15 races) with the exception of three wildcard selections which are Professional Continental teams: Barloworld, Agritubel and Slipstream. All of the selections have ridden the Tour before with the exception of the two newly formed American teams of High Road (born out of the ashes of T-Mobile) and Slipstream.

Sponsors are just as important to the team as their star riders, because they are the ones that pay the wages, so here is an informative guide to the teams – and the team tops – that will be going for glory in this year's Tour.

The team classification is also included, though this stops at 19th place because Cofidis and Astana were pulled from the race in 2007.

AG2R La Mondiale

  • Registered -  France
  • Founded -  2000
  • Sponsors -  A French-based insurance and pension fund group.
  • Last year the team was called -  Ag2r-Prevoyance
  • Star Riders -  Tadej Valjavec, Vladimir Efimkin, Martin Elmiger
  • Bikes - BH Global Concept, Campagnolo
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  None
  • Best Placed Rider - Stéphane Goubert, 27th TEAM CLASSIFICATION 10th
  • Trivia - The team has won six Tour stages over eight years, the last coming on stage 8 in 2006 through Sylvain Calzati. The squad also boasts two  Estonian riders – Tanel Kangert and René Mandri

Agritubel

  • Registered -  France
  • Founded - 2005
  • Sponsors - The company catchline is "L'innovation tubulaire". Roughly translated it means Agritubel makes tubular metal holding pens for cattle which are "studied for the safety of animals"
  • Star Riders - Christophe Moreau, Jimmy Casper 
  • Bikes - Kuota KOM, SRAM Red
  • 2007 Tour Wins - None
  • Best Placed Rider - Moises Duenas Nevado, 39th
  • Team Classification - 17th
  • Trivia -  After failing to finish last year�s Tour, Romain Feillu went on to win the Tour of Britain – beating Adrian Palomares on countback

Caisse D'Epargne

  • Registered -  Spain
  • Founded -  2004
  • Sponsors -  Despite being a Spanish registered team, the title sponsor is a French bank. The majority of the riders are Spanish as the team was born out of the ashes of the Banesto team of Miguel Indurain
  • Star Riders - Alejandro Valverde, Oscar Pereiro, Vladimir Karpets
  • Bikes -  Pinarello Prince, Campagnolo
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  None
  • Best Placed Rider - Alejandro Valverde, 6th
  • Team Classification - 2nd
  • Trivia -  Caisse d'Epargne is the only team in this year's race to have a former Tour winner in its ranks after Oscar Pereiro was awarded the 2006 yellow jersey following the disqualification of Floyd Landis

Bouygues Telecom

  • Registered -  France
  • Founded -  2005
  • Sponsors - Pronounced 'bweeg telecom', the sponsor is a French mobile phone company. The team was previously known as Brioches La Boulangère
  • Star Riders -  Thomas Voeckler, Pierrick Fédrigo, Xavier Florencio
  • Bikes - Time VXR, Campagnolo
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  None
  • Best Placed Rider -  Xavier Florencio, 46th 
  • Team Classification - 14th
  • Trivia - Thomas Voeckler became the darling of the French when he wore the yellow jersey for 10 days in 2004, losing it to Lance Armstrong on stage 15

Euskaltel-Euskadi

  • Registered -  Spain
  • Founded - 1994
  • Sponsors - Euskaltel is a Basque telecom company, Euskadi is a Basque cultural and sporting foundation. The orange outfit is seen as the 'unofficial' Basque cycling team and is the oldest team in the Tour
  • Star Riders -  Haimar Zubeldia, Samuel Sánchez, Mikel Astarloza
  • Bikes - Orbea Orca, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins - None
  • Best Placed Rider - Haimar Zubeldia, 5th 
  • Team Classification - 5th
  • TRIVIA 2007 - 2007's overall award for most combative rider went to Amets Txurruka, making him the third Spaniard in a row to win it after David de la Fuente (2005) and Oscar Pereiro (2006)

Francaise Des Jeux

  • Registered - France
  • Founded - 1997
  • Sponsors - The French national lottery
  • Star Riders -  Sandy Casar, Philippe Gilbert, Sebastien Chavanel
  • Bikes - Lapierre, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  Sandy Casar, stage 18
  • Best Placed Rider - Thomas Lövkvist, 64th TEAM CLASSIFICATION 19th
  • Trivia - The Belgian one-day specialist, Philippe Gilbert, has a degree in horticulture

Credit Agricole

  • Registered - France
  • Founded - 1998
  • Sponsors - CA is a large bank that traditionally deals with rural areas of France. It took over sponsorship when the GAN team folded. Crédit Agricole has announced it will end its sponsorship after 2008
  • Star Riders - Thor Hushovd, Sebastian Hinault, Dmitriy Fofonov (the team also includes the British sprinter, Jeremy Hunt, not riding in Le Tour) 
  • BIKES Look 595 Pro Team, Dura-Ace 
  • 2007 TOUR WINS Thor Hushovd, stage 2
  • Best Placed Rider - Dmitriy Fofonov, 26th
  • Team Classification - 9th
  • Trivia - Irishman Nicholas Roche, the son of 1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche, rides for the team. He'll have his work cut out to match dad who also won the Giro d'Italia and World Championships in '87

Barloworld

  • Registered - Britain
  • Founded -  2003
  • Sponsors - Although the team is registered in Britain, Barloworld is a South African industrial brand management company dealing with worldwide distribution, rental and logistics. In short, four wheels good
  • Star Riders - Mauricio Soler, Robert Hunter, Baden Cooke (the squad also includes the non-Tour riding Brits Geraint Thomas and Steve Cummings)
  •  BIKES Bianchi 928 Carbon T-Cube, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  Mauricio Soler, stage 9 and the climbers' classification, Robert Hunter, stage 11
  • Best Placed Rider - Mauricio Soler, 11th
  • Team Classification - 15th
  • Trivia -  Robert Hunter, the first South African to win a stage of the Tour, has been voted his country's cyclist of the year 5 times since 2001

Garmin-Chipotle-H30

  • Registered -  USA Founded 2007 
  • Sponsors -  Garmin makes GPS devices, Chipotle Mexican Grill serves up burritos and tacos, and H-30 is a management company
  • Star Riders -  David Millar, David Zabriskie, Magnus Backstedt
  • Bikes - Felt F1, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins - N/A
  • Best Placed Rider - N/A 
  • Team Classification - N/A 
  • Trivia - As well as David Millar's ability against the clock, the team can also count on David Zabriskie in the "contre la montre". The American won the opening 19km time trial in 2005, beating fellow American Lance Armstrong – a former teammate of directeur sportif Jonathan Vaughters – and Jan Ullrich along the way

Team CSC

  • Registered -  Denmark
  • Founded - 2001
  • Sponsors - CSC stands for Computer Sciences Corporation, an IT company based in California, USA. The company is pulling its sponsorship at the end of the year
  • Star Riders -  Fabian Cancellara, Frank Schleck, Carlos Sastre
  • Bikes - Cervelo Soloist carbon, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins - Fabian Cancellara, prologue and stage 3 
  • Best placed rider - Carlos Sastre, 4th
  • Team Classification - 3rd
  • Trivia - Spartacus is the nickname of last year�s double stage winner, Fabian Cancellara

Cofidis

  • Registered - France
  • Founded - 1997
  • Sponsors - Even with a petit peu of French, the team jersey says it all – the company offers loans over the phone or on the internet
  • Star Riders - Sylvain Chavanel (right), Nick Nuyens, David Moncoutié BIKES Time VXR, Campagnolo
  • 2007 Tour Wins - None 
  • Best placed Rider -  N/A
  • Team Classification - N/A
  • Trivia - The entire Cofidis team was pulled from the race last year after Christian Moreni tested positive for testosterone following stage 11. This also meant an end to the race for Bradley Wiggins in his second Tour appearance

Lampre - Fondital

  • Registered -  Italy
  • Founded -  2005
  • Sponsors - Lampre produces pre- coated steel, Fondital makes heaters and radiators. You always expect the sponsors to do something a bit more exciting, don't you?
  • Star Riders -  Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan 
  • Bikes - Wilier Cento, Campagnolo
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  Daniele Bennati, stage 17 and 20 
  • Best Placed Rider - Tadej Valjavec, 19th
  • Team Classification -  8th
  • Trivia - When 2004 Giro d'Italia champion Damiano Cunego rode his only Tour (in 2006) he won the young rider classification (white jersey)

Team Milram

  • Registered -  Germany
  • Founded - 2006
  • Sponsors - Milram produces dairy products
  • Star Riders -  Eric Zabel, Igor Astarloa
  • Bikes - Colnago Extreme, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  None
  • Best Placed Rider -  Andry Grivko, 78th
  • Team Classification - 18th
  • Trivia - Super sprinter Eric Zabel holds the record in the points classification (green jersey) with six straight wins (1996 to 2001)

Gerolsteiner

  • Registered - Germany
  • Founded - 1998
  • Sponsors - Gerolsteiner is the biggest producer of bottled water in Germany. Its long sponsorship finishes at the end of this year
  • Star Riders - Davide Rebellin, Fabian Wegmann, Robert Förster
  • Bikes - Specialized S-works Tarmac SL2, Dura-Ace 2007 
  • Tour Wins - None
  • Best Placed Rider -  Bernhard Kohl, 31st
  • Team Classification - 16th 
  • Trivia -  Despite the team sponsorship deal Fabian Wegmann ran out of water with 20km to go in Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier this year!

Team Columbia (formerly Team High Road)

  • Registered - USA
  • Founded -  2007
  • Sponsors - When T-Mobile pulled its sponsorship of the men in magenta, following one doping scandal after another, the outfit was taken over by the team's management company, High Road Sports. Just prior to the Tour, the team signed American clothing manufactuer Columbia, and the team changed its name to Team Columbia.
  • Star Riders -  George Hincapie, Kim Kirchen, Linus Gerdemann (the team also includes the British duo of Roger Hammond, Bradley Wiggins, neither of whom are riding this year's Tour) 
  • Bikes - Giant TCR Advanced SL Team, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  N/A
  • Best Placed Rider - N/A
  • Team Classification -  N/A
  • Trivia - Linus Gerdemann won stage 7 last year, riding for T-Mobile

Liquigas

  • Registered - Italy
  • Founded - 2005
  • Sponsors You say leeky-gas I say leekwi-gas. Whatever your pronunciation, the title sponsor produces bottled gas, mainly for cooking
  • Star Riders -  Filippo Pozzato, Daniele Bennati, Manuel Beltran (the team also includes the British rider Charly Wegelius)
  • Bikes -  Cannondale Super Six, Campagnolo
  • 2007 Tour Wins - Filippo Pozatto, stage 5
  • Best Placed Rider - Manuel Beltran, 18th
  • Team Classification - 11th
  • Trivia - Charly Wegelius was the highest placed British rider in last year's Tour finishing in 45th position

Silence-Lotto

  • Registered -  Belgium
  • Founded - 2003
  • Sponsors - Lotto is the Belgium national lottery and has been around since the beginning, while co-sponsors have come and gone. Last year it was Predictor, a pregnancy testing kit, and this year it is Silence, a product which aims to stop you snoring
  • Star Riders - Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Yaroslav Popovych 
  • Bikes -  Ridley Helium, Campagnolo 2007 
  • Tour wins - Robbie McEwen, stage 1
  • Best Placed Rider - Cadel Evans, 2nd
  • Team Classification - 7th 
  • Trivia - Last place finisher – the lantern rouge – in 2007 was the team's Wim Vansevenant of Belgium, 3.52.54 behind the winner, Alberto Contador. As he also took this surprisingly prestigious honour in 2006 he could be on for a hatrick should he compete this year

Rabobank

  • Registered - The Netherlands
  • Founded - 1996
  • Sponsors - Rabobank is Holland's largest "financial services provider", which means it's a bank
  • Star RIders -  Denis Menchov, Oscar Freire, Juan Antonio Flecha
  • Bikes - Colnago Extreme, Dura-Ace
  • 2007 Tour Wins - Michael Rasmussen, stage 8 and 16. Note: these are not recognised as the Dane was pulled from the race after his second "win"
  • Best Placed Rider - Michael Boogerd, 12th
  • Team Classification - 4th
  • Trivia - Mauricio Ardila, the winner of the inaugural Tour of Britain in 2004, rides for the team

Saunier Duval-Scott

  • Registered - Spain
  • Founded - 2004
  • Sponsors - Saunier Duval is part of the Vaillant Group, making hot water heaters, heating and air conditioning systems, while Scott supplies the bikes
  • Star riders - Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli, David de la Fuente
  • Bikes - Scott Addict, SRAM Red
  • 2007 Tour Wins -  None
  • Best Placed Rider - Iban Mayo, 16th
  • Team Classification -  6th
  • Trivia - If Riccardo Ricco rides this year it will be the 24-year-old's first Tour de France after finishing sixth in the Giro d'Italia last year

Quick Step 

  • Registered - Belgium
  • Founded - 2003
  • Sponsors - Quick Step makes laminate flooring and is the title sponsor this year. Previous co-sponsors have included Davitamon and, last year, Innergetic
  • Star Riders - Tom Boonen (but he's not invited), Paolo Bettini,
  • Bikes - Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2, Campagnolo 
  • 2007 Tour wins Gert Steegmans, stage 2, Tom Boonen, stage 6 and 12 and overall in the points classification, Cedric Vasseur, stage 10
  • Best Placed Rider -  Juan Manuel Gárate, 21st
  • Team Classification -  12th
  • Trivia - Although Tom Boonen won his first green jersey last year, he only managed 119th place overall

Who Won't be There?

Apart from the many riders who won't be taking part in this year's Tour de France because of their nefarious drug taking habits there are also those who have either opted not to ride or have not been invited by race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation.

The most notable absentees for British fans are likely to be Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, who are giving Le Tour a miss to concentrate on their preparation for the track events at the Olympics. 

Following two years that have seen Le Tour brought to its knees by doping scandals, ASO isn't taking any chances over doping at its race this year. This extends to banning by association, and the Astana Team has taken the rap for the wrongdoing of former riders – most notably Alexandre Vinokourov who was kicked off the race last year for blood doping. Although the Astana dead wood has been removed and replaced to a large extent by the management and riders from the now defunct Discovery team, they are still not welcome on this year's Tour.

This means that for the third year running the Tour will start without a rider wearing dossard number 1 because last year's winner, Alberto Contador , signed for the Kazakh team after Discovery ended its sponsorship. Joining the Spaniard in the new venture was the American Levi Leipheimer who finished third last year. And yet another big name will also be missing because Andreas Klöden , who was second overall in 2004 and 2006, is also part of the new Astana outfit. Contador's winning performance in the Giro - when Astana got a last-minute invite was an indication of what we will be missing.

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