By Shane Stokes
T-Mobile General Manager Bob Stapleton has strongly rejected claims made by Gerolsteiner's Hans-Michael Holczer that the latter team was the only German-registered one in the ProTour.
Holczer said at Tuesday's Gerolsteiner launch that the license holder for the team is High Road Sports, based in the US and owned by Stapleton, a US citizen. However on Wednesday afternoon, the T-Mobile chief said that there is no question about the identity of the squad, and that Gerolsteiner were either accidentally or deliberately misinterpreting the issue.
"The T-Mobile team is a German registered team, and that is quite clear," said Stapleton at the team's training camp in Mallorca on Wednesday. "There is a German paying agent and that is the criteria for registration in the ProTour. So I think the folks at Gerolsteiner should know the facts, and probably do know the facts, and that this is part of their position of their programme.
"The good news in all of this is that I think Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile both take the fight against doping very seriously. We act in concert there. But I have no explanation for the lack of correct facts they have got [re T-Mobile not being a German team]. I think their comment may be related to a comment they believe that Luuc Eisenga [T-Mobile technical director] made, but this is a simple matter of record. It can be looked up, it is quite easy to confirm.
"Of course, T-Mobile will be a German registered team. The team is predominantly German, both as regards its athletes and its management, and it has a long legacy as a German team that we respect and plan to continue."
The squad is due to leave Mallorca on Thursday, with the mens team getting their season underway on January 28 with the Tour of Qatar.