Team Milram need a big performance at the Tour. Linus Gerdemann (second right) will be hoping to deliver.
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Most riders from German ProTour team still riding in 2011
The majority of former Team Milram riders are still on their bikes in 2011, ranging from ProTeams to Continental to the track to the mountain biking. Others have retired from cycling all together, one has become a directeur sportif, a number were caught in the Pegasus debacle, and several are still scrambling to find anything.
The top names got ProTeam contracts. Linus Gerdemann and Fabian Wegmann are with the new Team Leopard-Trek. Gerald Ciolek and Dutch national champion Niki Terpstra signed for Quick Step, to ride the sprints and Classics alongside Tom Boonen. German national champion Christian Knees ended up at Team Sky after going through the whole Pegasus trauma. Young Dominik Nerz put in a good enough neo-pro season to get a contract with Liquigas.
Four riders have gone back down to the Professional Continental level. Germans Roger Kluge and Johannes Fröhlinger have joined the Dutch team Skil-Shimano, and Belgian Wim de Vocht will ride for Verandas Willems – Accent. Veteran sprinter Robert Förster will work with the young riders at US-based UnitedHealthcare.
Two riders have had to settle for Continental teams. Björn Schröder will be one of the captains at German's Team Nutrixxion, while Paul Voss is with the British Team Endurance.
Four riders thought they had a sure thing with Pegasus Sports, sure that the emerging Australian team would secure a ProTeam licence. When that failed and even a Professional Continental licence wasn't issued, they had to scramble to find something new. So far only Knees has had success.
Marcus Eichler, Thomas Rohregger and Luke Roberts are all still looking. Roberts will ride the Tour Down Under for Team UniSA-Australia, a national team. He will then head back to Europe for several Six Day races, but has nothing in hand after that.
Several riders have looked to new horizons. Servais Knaven stopped riding for Milram in August and became a directeur sportif for the team's last months. He will continue in that position with Team Sky.
Wim Stroetinga has gone back to the track. The Dutch rider had been selected to the national team to ride the omnium at the World Cup meet in Beijing the end of this month, but broke his collarbone in a crash last weekend at the Rotterdam Six Day race.
Matthias Russ, who once came within seconds of wearing the maglia rosa in the 2008 Giro d'Italia, will ride part-time for the Christliche Mountain Bike Team, while studying mechanical engineering full-time.
Peter “Paco” Wrolich decided that 12 years was enough as a rider. He is not only president of the Kärnten cycling federation but will also stay involved in cycling with the Star Events agency.
Dominik Roels, who was best known for his breakaways in the Vuelta a Espana, loved the travelling aspects of cycling so much that when he realized he would not find a new contract, he set out to see the world. Directly after the season, he and Nico Keinath, who retired in mid-season from Team NetApp, set off on a round-the-world journey scheduled to last several months. When that is done, Roels said he might go back to school.
Roy Sentjens has also retired, but perhaps not so voluntarily. In his angst to do well enough to get a new contract, he said, he resorted to doping. A positive control for EPO put an end to his dreams, and he announced his retirement, while also facing a two-year ban.
Which leaves five riders without contracts or any announced plans for 2011. Of the Pegasus riders, neither Eichler nor Rohregger have apparently had any luck so far, although they might stay with the team on the Continental level.
Surprisingly, neither Markus nor Thomas Fothen has apparently had any nibbles for continued employment in pro cycling. Markus, the elder brother, won the U23 time trial world title in 2003, brought in top 15 results in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2005 and 2006, but was never again able to live up to those achievements. Thomas did not have any wins in his five-year career. One or both brothers are expected to take over the family farm.
Artur Gajek was also unable to find a new contract.
Team owner Gerry van Gerwen gave up on his team this year reluctantly but realistically. He sought a new sponsor until the very end, but in the end was unsuccessful. However, the Dutchman is not turning his back on the sport.
“The van Gerwen family will continue with its engagement in international cycling and especially in Germany. We will continue with our search for a new team sponsor and hope to return soon to the peloton,” he told the press last month.
Former Sport Director Christian Henn will “get a trainer's licence and work with the school-age riders at the Verein Rhein-Neckar” in Heidelberg. “But I will continue to look around in pro cycling,” he told Cyclingnews.
Sport Director Ralf Grabsch is also working on his trainer's licence. “When I have my licence, I will have man possibilities to continue working in cycling,” he told Cyclingnews. “Yes,I will remain in cycling!”
Grabsch has also started a new project developing and selling training plans to amateur riders. The first part of the plan, called “Radsport Master-Plan” is currently available only in German at www.radsport-masterplan.de.
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