T-Mobile has a new manager, a new four-year extension of its ProTour license and several new faces in the management team. As the top German squad attempts to move on from the Jan Ullrich years after its former star's ignominious departure under the cloud of Operacion Puerto, Susan Westemeyer looks at who is likely to ride for T-Mobile in 2007.
The T-Mobile Team has received "an important signal" for its new beginning and fight against doping in pro cycling, says incoming team manager Bob Stapleton. The UCI granted the team an extension of its Pro Tour license through the 2010 season. "The UCI immediately recognized the value that T-Mobile brings to cycling and respects the team management's commitment to clean and fair sport," the team said proudly.
The Pro Tour license is "a first step in the ongoing restructuring of the team," Stapleton said. The next official step will be taken on November 1, when Stapleton takes the team over from Olaf Ludwig. Ongoing problems with Ludwig evidently came to a head during the Tour de France this year, and may well be related to Operation Puerto and the alleged involvement of Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage. The team has said that "the determining factor" in discontinuing its relationship with Ludwig "was a lack of confidence in the team management, as well as many radically differing ideas on the future strategy and direction of the T-Mobile Team and the handling of the current doping problem."
It seems that part of that "future strategy" is a "cleansing" of the team's roster: riders who are were associated with Ullrich and those with any hint of suspicion of involvement in doping, even rumoured, are apparently being let go.
Andreas Klöden and Matthias Kessler have sought refuge with former teammate -- and potential Tour rival -- Alexander Vinokourov and his new Team Astana. Klöden and Kessler were both good friends with Ullrich and both have made no secret that they remain in close contact with Ullrich, and feel that he has not been treated well by T-Mobile. In addition, both have publicly criticized the Ludwig regime.