The T-Mobile Team has officially announced its restructuring plan for next season. With Olaf Ludwig at the helm, the German team is aiming at meeting the increased pressure of the ProTour series with a stronger line up, both in terms of riders and staff.
Sports director Mario Kummer will have a broader scope of duties next season. The 43-year-old 1988 Olympic gold medallist will in future act as sports and technical director, charged with developing and deciding team strategy and logistics, together with Ludwig. "Mario has proven over the years how important he is to the team," said Olaf Ludwig about his experienced partner. "Now he is ready to assume more responsibility."
For Kummer, the role represents a "new challenge". Jointly taking care of the interests of the entire team, is a "tough but extremely attractive task, that I am greatly looking forward tom," he said. "Being trusted with planning and implementation, is a complex responsibility, but one which also offers me more scope."
Ludwig added, "We have already pushed out our boundaries, and now it is not just about defending them, but expanding them. Today, we have to have the right structures in place to respond in the most professional way to the challenges of elite pro cycling. In Mario, I have a partner, who has the right qualities and in whom I have 100 percent trust."
Olaf Ludwig, as director of the Olaf Ludwig Cycling GmbH (OLC) management company will handle team affairs, and along with his representative role, will deal with all contractual matters. Hans Hindelang, a long time associate and former manager of Ludwig, will take care of finances. Mario Kummer will handle logistics and strategy, with Greet Verhulst acting as his assistant.
It's now been officially confirmed that the existing team of sporting directors, Giovanni Fidanza, Brian Holm, Frans van Looy and Valerio Piva, will be strengthened by the addition of Rudy Pevenage. The Belgian, until now exclusively an advisor to Jan Ullrich, will, in association with Ludwig, direct and assume responsibility for the 2006 Tour team's preparations. The roles of the other sporting directors have also been more clearly defined: Valerio Piva will primarily focus on the Spring Classics, where he will be supported by Holm, van Looy and Fidanza. The latter trio will themselves also direct team affairs at various races. Kummer/Ludwig will collaborate closely with the sporting directors on all issues.
The nucleus of the T-Mobile roster for the 2006 Tour de France (July 1 to 23) will be nominated by the end of this year already (Pevenage has already named a Tour team to Bild). "The team will train together, race together and jointly test new equipment," said Ludwig. "On top of that, we will have to put ourselves and our workflows constantly to the test." Only in this way "can we foster the right team spirit and avoid allowing errors to creep in."
Rolf Aldag, who retires as an active rider at the end of this season, will play a consulting role.
Classics specialists Andreas Klier, Steffen Wesemann, Matthias Kessler and Sergey Ivanov will also play a more prominent role in the coming season. They will be expected to get the T-Mobile Team off to winning start in the Spring Classics, and set the tone for the rest of the season.
As captain, Jan Ullrich will also take on a more responsible role, as the focus of the Tour team. The 1997 Tour winner will continue to have his say and offer his input into the on-going season planning. For that reason, he has withdrawn from the Züri Metzgete race (October 2). Lately, with such a busy calendar of discussions and meetings, Ullrich hasn't been able to dedicate himself fully to preparing for what was to be the final race in his season programme. On top of that, "it is important, to properly regenerate, in order to fully set about realising the new goals," said Ullrich.
In November of this year, the whole team will gather for a team-building session in the Austrian Alps, rather than a traditional team get-together. Additionally, the riders, support staff and management will meet in the Austrian capital Vienna. Following private training trips, the riders will regroup for the team training camp at the Club Robinson in Mallorca (January).