By Bjorn Haake in Vogtsburg
Several German races already have vanished this year, and the Regio is the next event which is likely to go back to its original amateur status. However, organiser Rudi Renz hasn't given up hope yet and is still looking for a different sponsor to take over the patronage.
With the 2009 edition still a year away he still has some time to salvage the well organised race which the professionals hope to see remain. They value the fact that it is a high profile stage race where all days take place in the same general area, and all the teams stay in the same hotel for the week. Without the transfers there is a lot less stress for everybody.
Many of the German riders have already raced here in the past. Gerolsteiner's Markus Fothen, who won the final stage, held his hopes up high. "I don't think this is the end yet. I have ridden it with Gerolsteiner and also with the U23 National Team. It is a great event. The reasons are of course well known. There are many problems right now [continuing races], but I am hopeful that it will continue. It really is fun to race here."
Overall winner Björn Schröder (Milram) also enjoyed the race over the years. "I have raced here eight times. It would be a pity if it would have to stop. It is a highlight where we like to race."
The organiser for the French side of the race, Gaby Klem, is trying to bring back a border crossing stage. "I would like to have a stage from France to Germany and one from Germany to France." To keep the race at a professional level, he looks for help in the highest places. Klem will try to bring Bernard Thévenet and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme on his side. "Prudhomme told me a couple of years ago how important the Regio Tour is."
Third-placed Manuel Vázquez, who told Cyclingnews that it was first visit to Germany, was also impressed with the race. "The Regio Tour is a great event. That would be a real pity if my first appearance here would also be my last. Let's hope that it will continue."
Mountain jersey winner Mauricio Ardila Cano of Rabobank confirmed the sentiments of the other riders. "This is a very well organised race. It'd be a pity if it had to stop. Cycling is doing much more than other sports against doping. I think that cycling is cleaner than it used to be. Hopefully we can change even more," Ardila Cano said in hopes that the sponsors will reconsider their mass exodus.