By Susan Westemeyer
Gerolsteiner Brunnen's decision not to extend its naming rights sponsorship contract with the German ProTour team beyond 2008 hasn't surprised team manager Hans Michael Holczer. "It is not a surprise to us, it is 90 percent based on financial aspects," Holczer told Cyclingnews. "In the last 10 years not only has the team changed and grown enormously, the product portfolio of Gerolsteiner has grown, too. It is understandable that our sponsor has to change his methods of communication."
"We are now on the market ourselves with a 'complete package'," he continued. "Never in the last few years has there been a chance for potential sponsors to enter cycling so economically as now: a perfect, future-oriented young team with a perfect infrastructure in a time in which the big chaos is behind us. I am optimistic that we will also be on the road as a ProTour team in 2009."
The riders have reacted "calmly", Holczer told news agency dpa. "They know they can rely on their 'erstaz Papa'."
The German cycling federation, Bund Deutscher Radfahrer, said that it was sorry to learn of the company's decision to leave. "[BDR] has a major interest in the continuation of this team, which is a good example of credible cycling, with the right mix of young and experienced riders," the cycling body said. "In addition, Team Manager Hans-Michael Holczer is a very important partner for the BDR, which he has especially shown the last few months with his uncompromising support of the BDR's fight against doping."
Gerolsteiner's closest 'rival', fellow German squad T-Mobile, was lucky enough for its sponsor to announce that it would continue its sponsorship through to 2010. "Every company has to take a decision of its own, based on its goals and the facts," Christian Frommert, Vice President for Sponsoring Communications at Deutsche Telekom, told Cyclingnews. "We respect Gerolsteiner's decision. They did a lot for cycling in Germany. They made their decision, we made ours. I think Hans-Michael Holczer is such an excellent manager that he will find another sponsor for the team."