Rolf Aldag is confident that all the HTC-Highroad riders will successfully find new teams after it was announced last week that the team would cease to operate at the end of the year.
The team’s senior sports director has spent much of the last few days using his extensive list of contacts to help riders, staff and teams personnel find positions for 2012. He estimates that all but a few have either secured or are in negotiations with new teams.
“Most of them are pretty much alright now. Most of them are set,” Aldag told Cyclingnews.
“Many people have the luxury to have people waiting on them. So for example Tony Martin hadn’t signed yet. I think he can hold himself back for a bit from a few offers because I don’t think he’ll have any trouble because the offers he’ll get are just crazy.”
“If you look down the rankings of the first 70 riders you’ll see Tony and Marco Pinotti are available and that’s about it. So if teams want points for their licences they’d better talk to him quick. A rider like Tony, his value will not drop down because he keeps his points as long as he signs a contract before ProTeam applications are submitted for approval. If I was him I would lean back and have meetings with every team manager and see what they offer and what they can do.”
However not everyone on HTC-Highroad’s roster are as luck or as talented as Pinotti or Martin. And no matter how much support they may have given their team leaders, they have fewer opportunities to find homes for next year, Aldag acknowledged.
“Other guys will say, well I do have an offer, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for but that’s life. This is how it is for many of our people. They can be happy with the pay and it might even be more but it’s not Highroad. For many of our guys it was more than just a job, you hear that from the successful guys and from all the other riders.”
Highroad struggled to find a sponsor after talks with HTC broke down. Stapleton was also in negotiations with several other parties, including other squads for a possible merger, however at the 11th hour a third party pulled the plug. Stapleton refused to say how far negotiations had gone but Cyclingnews understands that Stapleton had begun discussing future contracts with current staff.
Yet all that counts for little now as all of the staff look to stay within the sport.
“It’s over and we have to live with that and I’m more than happy if we can just get people into other teams. It was crazy over the last few days to try and really help people. I’m not a manager but I was taking calls and giving as much advice as I could. A lot of people are solid now and should be alright. It’s all proof of how much quality we have. There are maybe two or three riders that are still searching at this moment.”
Aldag’s own future remains uncertain though. Having spent the last few days on the phone helping other staff secure their future’s he has taken a step back and not given his own prospects much thought. As one of the most respected directeur sportif in the sport, he is one of HTC’s integral cogs and can take credit for a fair share of their success.
“My wife thinks I’m totally crazy because she thinks I should be out looking for offers for myself but I think that if the ship goes down then the captain probably shouldn’t jump first. I’ve called people from other teams looking for places for mechanics. Some teams have enquired about me and I’d like to stay in cycling. I realise that it’s never going to be the same but there’s a lot of interesting stuff out there but I don’t know what I want to do and whatever it is I have to be 100 per cent convinced that I want to do it.”