By Susan Westemeyer
Team Milram, the Italian-German ProTour team, will be smaller next year. Eight riders have left the team, while only five newcomers have been hired. No more signings are expected; team spokesman Sandra Schmitz reported to www.radsport-aktiv.de that "There's still some space, but we're going to stay with 27 riders."
The most illustrious newcomer is former World Champion Igor Astarloa. The 30 year-old Spaniard is a one-day specialist who can also sprint. The heart of the team will continue to be all-out sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel, and they will have a new man to pull sprints for them in Brett Lancaster. The 26 year-old Australian is coming over from professional continental team Panaria-Navigare.
In addition, Milram has signed three young riders. Marcel Sieberg, 24, is moving up to the ProTour from Wiesenhof-Akud. He added Belgian one day race GP Jef Scherens to his palmarès this year. 22 year-old Sebastian Schwager comes from Continental Team Thüringer Energie, and finished second this year in the German U23 league. The two will be joined by Niki Terpstra, a 22 year-old Dutchman.
Eight riders are leaving Milram, three of whom have not yet found new teams: Daniel Becke, Simone Cadamuro and Michele Gobbi. Gobbi is still in rehabilitation after suffering life-threatening head injuries in a race crash in October. Daniel Musiol is going to Wiesenhof-Felt, Maxim Iglinsky to Astaná, Maarten den Bakker to Skil-Shimano, Giovanni Visconti to Quick-Step and Alessandro Vanotti to Liquigas.
The team will not only have fewer riders but also one less director sportif. Jan Schaffrath has moved over to rival T-Mobile, and spokesman Schmitz indicated that there are no plans to replace him.