By Susan Westemeyer
Team Milram is going to continue but it may assume a different form than it presently has, losing its Italian influence. "I don't know why we shouldn't keep on," Director of Marketing for sponsor Nordmilch AG Marten Mischel told the Süddeutsche Zeitung but he indicated that massive changes may occur.
After the summer's many doping scandals the company said that it would review its sponsorship but had indicated that it would probably remain. The team itself has been hit twice, with Alessandro Petacchi's positive test for an asthma medication and by Jörg Jaksche's statement against team general manager Gianluigi Stanga, who holds the team's ProTour license.
"Our biggest problem at the moment is surely Stanga's past," Mischel said. "We want to change a lot of things for next year and I can imagine that the license will come to Germany." One possibility would be that Nordmilch would pay out Stanga's contract and buy the license from him, or the company could take over the license from another team which is ending at the end of the season, such as Unibet.
The new general manager would be Gerry van Gerwen, 50, who is now the team's business manager. "We will continue to work with him," Mischel said, and work with him beyond 2009. "It doesn't make any sense to plan a new project like this for only two years."
Changes in team management would be followed by changes in the make-up of the team itself. The SZ said that Erik Zabel will move back to rival T-Mobile Team, for which he rode most of his career and that he would serve as a mentor for up-and-coming young sprinter Gerald Ciolek. Zabel refused to comment to the newspaper but T-Mobile Sport Director Rolf Aldag said, "That is not out of the question. Athletically speaking, he would be the best to pull sprints for Gerald – if Erik would like to take over that role."
Mischel said that "at this point I cannot imagine" that the 37 year-old sprinter would leave but he added that, "what we are now planning is not Project Zabel." The newspaper suggested that the team would prefer to present a major German star to the German fans and it indicated that Andreas Klöden of Team Astana may take that role.