By Gregor Brown
Germany's Hans-Michael Holczer is without a sponsor for his Gerolsteiner team next year, but it has not kept him from making progress for cycling's future. He was part of the meeting last Friday of the 18 ProTour teams in Madrid to push forward the teams' organisation in 2009.
"It seems the 18 teams have a common position, which is very important. ... It seems constructive, and if we continue in this way they can have a future for cycling – what it should be – on the highest level, attractive [for sponsors], well-governed and well-organised," he said to Cyclingnews.
Following a meeting at the Tour de France, the ProTour teams announced they would not be renewing their licenses for the 2009 season and forming a teams' organisation away from the ProTour created by the International Cycling Union (UCI). The group had another meeting on the Tours' second rest day, in Cuneo.
Friday's meeting in Madrid continued the talks that began in June. The teams initially met in Frankfurt on June 4, followed by two further meetings in Brussels on June 18 and June 30. (Read Holczer tight-lipped after teams' working group meeting.)
"I am writing an e-mail to the UCI [UCI ProTour Manager Alan Rumpf] to request a meeting in the next days," Holczer continued. "We have this agreement with the organisers. It is a clear proposal to develop cycling on the highest level in the next years. I don't think our positions are that far off [from the UCI]. From the first moments of this initiative, we said we have to have UCI in on this plan as the governing body.
"We – the current 18 ProTour teams – have this agreement to start at the Monuments, excluding the Tour of Flanders, and the big three tours. Also, the code of ethics, financial and supporting guarantees. It is an agreement made on my initiative in June. We met in Frankfort and Brussels, and this is the agreement from the June 18 meeting in Brussels."
Holczer is part of the five-member working group formed to create a teams' organisation for 2009. The group consists of Holczer, Euskaltel-Euskadi's Eva Parera, CSC-Saxo Bank's Carsten Jeppesen, AG2R La Mondiale's Vincent Lavenu and Geert Coeman of Silence-Lotto.
Holczer is not sure of his role in 2009 since he will be without a team. He was unable to find a sponsor to fill the departure of Gerolsteiner. "At this moment I don't know," he commented. "Since I won't have a team I won't be in the association. So far, as I can see, I am out."
A bicycle shop and finding sponsors, albeit at a lower level, for his Continental Team keeps Holczer busy as Team Gerolsteiner comes to an end.