As Cyclingnews reported earlier, the Rothaus Regio Tour is forced to go back to its roots. The event started out as an amateur-only race in 1985. Frequently, national teams, such as selections from the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, would participate. The most famous amateur winner of the general classification was Mario Cipollini in 1987. In 1994, the event changed to a professional one and in 1996 it was Jan Ullrich, the East German who made his domicile in the south western area of Germany, who won on his training roads.
In 2004 (Alexander Vinokourov) and 2006 (Andreas Klöden) two riders who rode for Astana in 2007 were able to win the overall. And that could have been the downfall for the professional event. The main sponsor Rothaus, a brewing company, demanded the event scaled back to its original amateur status, starting in 2009. The organiser, Rudi Renz, told Cyclingnews that he "is not afraid of losing spectators. It was popular even as an amateur race and we always had some strong people in the field. When someone won the Regio Tour, you knew he could go all the way."
Renz was happy that Rothaus decided to continue to support the race, including the professional version in 2008. They just demanded that teams implicated in doping will not be racing. "We have already contacted the teams for this year's race. There will be no Team High Road [the successor of German T-Mobile - ed.] and no Astana." This will exclude former winner Andreas Klöden from participating.
But even with the professionals invited still for this year, Renz emphasised that he didn't mind having unknown racers. "I think we need to let the young ones come to the forefront. Milram has made its team younger and has a lot of talent. We need to give them the opportunity to race. Sure, Alessandro Petacchi has always drawn spectators and also always done well [he won stage 1 last year - ed.]," Renz made clear that going back to its roots is not necessarily a step back.
One thing is clear, though. It is the sponsor that dictates the rules. "Rothaus said that we don't want to support the professional racing anymore, due to the doping scandals. As an organiser of a race like this, I need the sponsor. So either you can go the way like the other German races – the races in Hessen and Niedersachsen had to be canceled – or you do what the sponsors demand."