There is a light at the end of the tunnel for the former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung. Team managers Herbert and Alexander Oppelt have found a consortium of sponsors who might be willing to support the team this year, with another company has indicated its interest in taking over sponsorship in 2011.
Herbert Oppelt is “cautiously optimistic” that the team will continue this year. A consortium of sponsors from northern Germany is “very interested” in helping the team for 2010, he told the Nürnberger Zeitung.
Nürnberger Versicherung ended its sponsorship of the women's team in 2009 after ten years of involvement . Skyter Shipping, a yacht-leasing firm, had agreed to take over sponsorship, but unexpectedly pulled out in early December, leaving the team without a sponsor.
Oppelt hopes to field a team at the Tour of Qatar, under either a new name, neutral name, or even as a German national team. He reckons to have enough budget to support a minimal team with a mini-budget this season. The team would ride the World Cup races, but would probably have to miss the stage races. “Usually we pay 300,000 euros per season in travelling costs. We have to save there,” Oppelt said.
Most of the riders have indicated their willingness to stay with the team. Only two riders have left since the news of the financial problems. Charlotte Becker has signed with Cervélo TestTeam, and Eva Lutz has decided to retire. The others, including Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke and German time trial champion Trixi Worrack, have indicated their readiness to stay with the team at reduced salaries. “It shows that the girls have a fantastic character,” said a proud Oppelt.
If the team can survive this transition year, it would appear to have its future secured. An as-yet-unamed European information-technology company has indicated it would sponsor the team for two years from 2011, Oppelt said. However, he added that the team will still look for a wider sponsorship pool, in order to cover all bases and reduce the reliance on one sponsor alone.