HAMMOND: I WAS ON HONEYMOON WHEN T-MOBILE PULLED OUT
Roger Hammond was on his honeymoon in Mauritius when the news that T-Mobile had pulled out – and it wasn’t until he returned to Europe that he found out.
By then Bob Stapleton had secured a pay-off to ensure the team could continue as Team High Road and Hammond had been spared the stress of worrying whether he was out of a job or not.
“I turned my phone off and we didn’t look at the internet and no one in Mauritius knew much about cycling so I was totally unaware,” said Hammond.
He and his new wife, Tara, returned to a flurry of phone messages, which told the full story of T-Mobile’s withdrawal and the team’s survival.
“I just found it really, really sad. I feel bad for everyone who has lost out – except those who are to blame,” he said.
“I actually don’t have anything negative to say about T-Mobile. They invested in cycling for 17 years and they put in so much. It’s sad they couldn’t fulfil their ambition because I got the feeling they wanted to stay involved on with a clean team.”
Three days after returning from his honeymoon, Hammond flew to Majorca for a training camp with the High Road squad.
Far from finding an atmosphere of doom and gloom, the spirit in the camp was good.
“I think there was a sense of relief in the team that we’re riding the Classics and they’ll be doing the Tour de France instead of spending December scrabbling around for a job,” he said.
“Very little has changed. We still have the same personnel and staff. It’s going to be a little different not racing for a major sponsor but you race to win, not because you have T-Mobile written on your jersey.”
At the moment the finer details have yet to be revealed but there’s one thing Hammond is certain of. “The jersey won’t be magenta,” he said.
He added that the uncertainty had begun to weigh on the squad. “There was so much speculation. I can understand why T-Mobile had to do what they did, because the pressure had got so much.”