Team Gerolsteiner has concluded its fall team meeting in Hillesheim, Germany, and team manager Hans-Michael Holczer was unable to give his riders the good news of a new sponsor, but said that his search was continuing.
"I will have to have a new sponsor for 2009 by April or May, otherwise I will have to tell my riders that they should look around for something else," he told the dpa. Gerolsteiner Brunnen Gmbh & Co. announced in September that it would not renew its sponsoring contract which expires the end of 2008.
"Hans will do it," rider Markus Fothen said confidently. "If not then I will have to ride well in the summer to recommend myself to other teams."
Holczer has been meeting with prospective sponsors, working diligently to ensure the future of the team. "I am having an extremely large number of discussions," Holczer said. "It is a lot of work and it is moving forward. But it's not as if there is a long line of interested parties out there."
"I am selling a perspective, a young team with the right attitude and extraordinary athletic capabilities," he said. The cost is around nine million Euro a year.
At the team meeting, he introduced his riders to the new "whereabouts" reporting requirements and let them know what they can expect in the coming year. Each rider can expect ten blood and five urine test per year "Next year there will be 7000 controls, in 2006 there were 150."
Holczer also supported his rider Stefan Schumacher, who earlier in the week released documents showing his blood values. Schumacher, who finished third in the men's Worlds road race, showed irregular blood values in an unannounced doping control a few days before the race. He said that they were due to a severe case of diarrhoea.
"A manipulation can be 100 percent out of consideration," Holczer said. "At my request the German cycling federation tested him again 62 hours after the NADA tests. All of the values were in the normal range, and most importantly – the increase in the leukocytes [white blood cells] which happens with an infection and can't be influenced by medication had decreased rapidly. That speaks very clearly for the fact that he had an infection.