By Susan Westemeyer
Michael Rich won't be riding races for Team Gerolsteiner any more, but he'll continue to work closely with the team, as "material and talent scout". Gerolsteiner has always had top material, but team manager Hans-Michael Holczer is a perfectionist, always looking for something better. He found his man in Rich, who stopped riding after the 2006 season at the age of 37, and who will test and improve the team's racing and time trial bikes, according to radsport-news.com.
Rich has always been involved with his bikes, especially helping to develop the time trial machines. Now he is turning his attention to his former teammates, working at the Büttgen Station track with Davide Rebellin, Stefan Schumacher, Ronny Scholz and Andrea Moletta, to improve their position on the bike. He's also sitting behind a desk, taking care of things. "Right now we're putting together the material for the new season: who needs which crank length, which saddle.. it's a lot of paperwork."
The other aspect of his job deals with the young Gerolsteiner riders, many of whom have moved or will be moving to the Freiburg, Germany, area: Fabian Wegmann, Johannes Fröhlinger, Matthias Russ, Tim Klinger, Carolo Westphal and Heinrich Haussler. Holczer doesn't want to leave the "stars of tomorrow" to look after themselves, but needs them to have an experienced advisor - Rich. His new job is to help bring the youngsters up to the ProTour level and share his advice and experience with them, whether it be the selection of which roads to train on, how to time trial, or even how to pick out an insurance policy.
But it doesn't stop there. Rich will also be a talent scout in the sense of American sports: he'll spend his summer going to amateur and junior races, keeping an eye out for "undiscovered" talent. And hoping, of course, that the selected riders will end up signing for Gerolsteiner.