MILRAM veteran Ralf Grabsch, after announcing his retirement at a meeting of his fan club last week, has been named by team management as a Directeur Sportif.
"I am looking forward to the new challenge. This is a big chance for me and I can fulfil my dream of a career in cycling after my career in cycling," said Grabsch, who swapped the final year of his contract as a rider to become a Directeur Sportif for Team MILRAM. "It is difficult for a cyclist to put his bike in the corner for the final time. I might have been able to keep on riding at this high level for a few more years, but this is the best step for my professional future."
Gerry van Gerwen, manager of Team MILRAM, was happy about Grabsch' transfer into management. "Ralf was my favourite candidate for the post of Directeur Sportif. He is a loyal person, knows his way around international cycling thanks to his many years, and with his experience will enrich our sporting management team."
Grabsch grew up in Seegrehna near Wittenberg, and rode for a total of 25 years. His talent was quickly recognized by the sports authorities in the former East Germany and he attended the sports school SC DHfk Leipzig. After many years with this East German club he went over to the amateur club RG Hamburg in 1992 along with Jan Ullrich.
Grabsch, whose younger brother Bert won the World time trial title in Varese the end of September, then turned professional and from 1996 to 1999 rode for Team Cologne, which in 1998 became Team Gerolsteiner.
In 1999, the Classics specialist, who lives with his wife Doreen in Hürth-Gleuel near Cologne, made his breakthrough in cycling. After a season with outstanding performances, he transfered to Team Telekom where he helped his childhood friend Jan Ullrich win the Vuelta.
In 2003 Grabsch transfered to Team Wiesenhof. After three years with the second-tier German team, he returned to the top class and signed with Team MILRAM, for which he rode the Tour de France three times in a rown, from 2006 to 2008. At Team MILRAM, the Classics specialist was one of the team leaders.
Grabsch' biggest personal success in a MILRAM jersey was his stage win in the Bayern Rundfahrt in 2006. In 1994 he won bronze in the World Championships with the German four-man time trial, and finished second in the International Friedensfahrt behind his teammate Jens Voigt. Two years later, in 1996, Grabsch won the overall title in the Hessen Rundfahrt.