Ralf Grabsch hasn't had a chance to get bored after retiring last seasonfrom a 13-year pro career. The German moved directly from his bike to the Team Milram car, serving as a directeur sportif this season. The biggest challenge was going from having everything taken care of to being the one responsible for taking care of everything, he told Cyclingnews in an interview.
The transition to his new duties was not too difficult, however, once he got used to the changes. “It was really a new experience after my pro career,” he said. “As a rider you just show up and everything is taken care of for you. Now, you have to take care of everything and everybody.
“When I am away with the team, they all come to me. I am responsible for everything,” he continued. “I have to plan, co-ordinate, organise – things you don't see as a rider.”
The hardest part was “that everyone comes to me: the masseurs, the mechanics, the doctors, the riders. I had to make all the decisions, but I think I got used to it quickly and I hope that I did it well.”
Grabsch, 36, rode for Milram the last three years of his career, and will take over as head sports director from Christian Henn in the coming year. He said that this basically means that “I will have a closer relationship to the riders. When they have problems, they can come to me. And I will tell them which races they will ride.”
He finds it a benefit to move into this position so shortly after his own active career. “I can still relate to them, since I was so recently active. I still have good relations with them.”
Grabsch will still spend a lot of time in the team car at races, more so than sitting at a desk. “I love the sport, and the best is when you are underway, especially at the races. There are so many new situations. I would rather go to races than sit in an office. I am not the man for office work!”
Nor does he spend all his time in the car. “Of course I still like to ride and do it a lot. It is a lot of fun," he continued, insisting that, "I haven't lost my fun in cycling, it is still there. That is the good thing. Many pros stop riding and put their bike in the corner and forget about it. Not me!”
Looking at the future of cycling in his homeland, Grabsch admitted that “the situation in Germany is not the best. Just when you think it has calmed down, the next blow comes, like the questions about Gerdemann's blood values at the end of the season.
“I sometimes think that the German media doesn't want German cycling to succeed,” Grabsch said.
“That's too bad, because we have so many good young German riders who deserve a chance. I sure hope that it improves, but it is very difficult in Germany.”
Grabsch, the older brother of former World time trial champion Bert Grabsch, turned pro in 1996 with Team Cologne. He subsequently rode for Gerolsteiner, Telekom, Wiesenhof and Milram.
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