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Leading British rider Nicole Cooke has been confirmed as one of the team leaders in T-Mobile's new international elite women's team. As well as 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Cooke, the team that has been developed from the number one-ranked US domestic squad will also feature 2004 world champion Judith Arndt.
"It was the right time for me to make a change," says 2004 Olympic silver medallist Arndt. "T-Mobile have offered me a great opportunity and I am looking forward to the challenge."
A women's team has competed in the UCI International Calendar, since 2002, under the name T-Mobile Professional Cycling Team. Under the management of the High Road Sports the team raced primarily in the United States, representing local subsidiary T-Mobile US. Over the next three years, the team - like the men's equivalent - will be based in Bonn, Germany, and play an important role in the international firm's cycling programme.
"Our goal is to nail down a top position in the UCI-World ranking list," says the team's sporting director Andrzej Bek. "For that, we will target both one-day Classics and international stage races," adds Bek, who is looking forward to "sending rosters of world class riders into action at major races." Among those riders are Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (31, six-time Tour de France stage winner) and Britain's Nicole Cooke, 22, the silver medallist in at this year's Worlds in Madrid.
T-Mobile spokesman Luuc Eisenga said of Cooke's arrival: "Nicole is one of the best female riders at the moment and we think she can be a role model for other cyclists."
"In terms of identity, we won't draw any lines," said Reinhard Plckthun, vice-president of sponsoring at T-Mobile International. "There is only one T-Mobile Team, and now that consists of a men's and a women's team. We have always insisted that our sponsorship engagement is extensive and long term. This latest expansion is a logical step that underpins the consistent approach we take to our sponsorship activities."
Britons Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Kristian House are already on the T-Mobile roster as part of the German team's development programme.
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