By Bjorn Haake in Offenburg, Germany
Central health insurance, based in Cologne, Germany is the main sponsor for the 2008 Ghost Team. Marketing manager Oliver Suhre told Cyclingnews that multiple reasons were weighed in the decision to sign the new sponsor, including "the health aspect of sports and having an athlete like Sabine [Spitz], who stands for a clean sport."
The health insurance company, founded in 1913, is concerned about the current trend toward people being overweight, even children. Suhre cited causes like "a lack of exercise and bad nutrition habits". So he is hoping that supporting a mountain bike team will encourage people to become more active. The motto of the insurer "Health moves us" expresses this concern about health issues as well as emphasizes the commitment to getting people moving.
Suhre sees one of the problems as a lack of information and intends the widespread sponsorship campaign to reach more people. "People need role models," he said, explaining that average sedentary people may draw motivation from seeing their heros in action.
The team's most famous rider is the 36 year-old Spitz, but she sees no end in sight for her career as she works into peak form for the upcoming Olympic Games in August. "I don't set myself a limit; as long as I am having fun I will continue."
But the team is also looking ahead to a future time when she does retire. Besides Spitz, there are currently U23 riders Anja Gradl and Nicola Rohrbach, who hails from Switzerland, as part of the formation, but the team is aiming to grow to nine riders in the future. Spitz could evolve her role into becoming a mentor and coach for the young riders over time.
Central has committed through 2010, but the team is hoping for a long term investment to build the next generation of elite mountain bikers.