By Susan Westemeyer
2007 was to be the season that Thomas Rohregger of Team Elk Haus-Simplon made his name and signed a ProTour contract for the coming year. He did his part, riding well enough to wear the leader's jersey in the Tour of Austria for three days this summer, but the ProTour teams are not doing their part.
"We are still in contact with Milram and Agritubel, but I can't rely on that," he said in an interview with sport1.at. "I assume I will ride again with Elk in 2008."
There are two reasons why he is having little luck finding a place on a ProTour team, he said. One is that "The competition [for a contract] is very hard and most riders would ride for free if they could only get a place on the team. It's almost as if you have to bring your own sponsor with you. And I'm not interested in riding for pennies. The sport is too hard for that."
The second reason, the 26 year-old said, is his nationality. "With an Austrian passport it is even more difficult to get a contract in another country." Possibly "because we don't have any big teams, which present the Austrian pros on the international market. On the other hand, how would an Austrian help a company like Cofidis or Française Des Jeux, when they aren't even on the market in our country."
Rohregger would liked to have signed with T-Mobile, noting that talks were held. "But they didn't go anywhere. That's pretty demoralizing, but I have to accept it."
Meanwhile, he accepts that he will be with the Professional Continental Elk Haus team for another year. "It looks like we could ride the Giro next year. In Italy as captain next to [team-mate Christian] Pfannberger, to be able to ride for myself -- what more could I want? Also, the Tour of Austria and the Deutschland Tour are set. The race schedule is not bad."