Milram to provide parachute for ex-Gerolsteiners

Team Gerolsteiner will soon be history, and the riders and staff will face trying to find contracts...

Team Gerolsteiner will soon be history, and the riders and staff will face trying to find contracts with other squads in a tight job market. There may be hope, however, for some riders and staff members in the form of the other German ProTour team, Milram. Gerry van Gerwen, manager of Team Milram, said he would like to take on as many riders and personnel from the Gerolsteiner team as possible.

"I don't want them all to become unemployed," Van Gerwen told the dpa press agency. He emphasized that he is not happy to see his rival German team disappear. "I am not a hyena. This is not a day of joy for us."

In a situation similar to the French Crédit Agricole squad, Gerolsteiner team owner and manager Hans-Michael Holczer has been unable to find a new sponsor to take over for the bottled water company when the current contract expires the end of this year.

At least two riders already have concrete plans for the future. Oliver Zaugg was the first to announce his new team, Liquigas. Bernhard Kohl, third this year in the Tour de France, announced Thursday that he has signed for the coming year, with the name of the team to be announced September 8. "I think that where I signed will be a surprise," he said.

Those who might be taken over by Milram include Directeur Sportif Christian Henn and possibly such big name riders as Kohl, Fabian Wegmann and the brothers Markus and Thomas Fothen. Milram has stated that it wants to hire as many Germans as possible. "A package deal is in sight," Henn said.

Henn had been mentioned in connection with a newly-formed Cervélo team, but the bike maker denied on Thursday that the German would be connected with the new Professional Continental Cervélo TestTeam. He has been with Gerolsteiner since 2001, and called the news of the team's end "simply sad". It was no surprise to him, and he is sorry to see the tightly-knit group ripped apart. "Especially in the last few weeks there has been a strong feeling of togetherness in the team. The riders had looked around for new teams, but took an unbelievable amount of time with their search. It is really too bad, that it is all over."

The 44 year-old said that he expected to announce the plans for his future in the next few weeks. (SW)

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