Team Gerolsteiner may not have won anything in the Tour de France, but it was one of the few teams to arrive with all nine riders in Paris Sunday afternoon. "I consider that a real success," said team manager Hans-Michael Holczer.
"It is a very good sign for us and for the future that we arrived in Paris with nine riders," he said. Gerolsteiner was one of the youngest teams in the race. Quick.Step Innergetic was the only other team not to have any personnel losses during the race.
"Sure, there were a lot of problems, especially in the mountains. But they all bore down and came through," he said. "I wouldn't have dared to believe that three weeks ago."
The team had four Tour debutants, all of whom performed well, he said. Sven Krauss was a "tireless helper" for sprinter Robert Förster, Heinrich Haussler brought in a top ten result, and Stefan Schumacher was on his way to a top ten finish in the last time trial before he crashed. "But we don't want to complain about the possibilities that we might have had," Holczer noted.
He was especially happy about the fourth rider, Bernhard Kohl, who showed his potential especially in the third week. The little climber showed an improved performance in the Pyrénées and moved his way up to a final 31st place overall, making him the best-placed Gerolsteiner in the Tour.
A disappointment, on the other hand, was Marcus Fothen, who placed 34th this year, after finishing 15th in his debut in 2006. He had some health problems before the Tour and never really found his form during the last three weeks. He did bring in the team's best stage result, though, finishing second in the 17th stage.
"We weren't brilliant," Holczer summarized. "But we can be proud of our results."