The International Cycling Union (UCI) has granted the T-Mobile Team a four year ProTour license, to be operated as a German team by High Road Sports, Inc and its sister company Neuer Straßen Sport GmbH, both belonging to T-Mobile Team's future general manager Bob Stapleton.
The license brings some welcome good news to T-Mobile, that has lost some of its biggest names recently. Jan Ullrich was sacked by the team on Saturday after being linked to the Operacion Puerto affair and Tour stars Andreas Kloden and Mattias Kessler have signed for team Astana for 2007.
Stapleton said that the UCI recognised that the team was trying to clean up cycling. "This is an important step for both our team and the ProTour. The UCI immediately recognised the value that T-Mobile brings to cycling and respects the team management's commitment to clean and fair sport," said Stapleton.
"By granting the license, the UCI is laying down a marker," said Ulli Gritzuhn, T-Mobile International's chief marketing officer. "In response, we will continue to actively contribute to the battle against doping, in order to give the sport of cycling back its credibility."
The license grant is, "a first step in the ongoing restructuring of the team," said Stapleton. "The ProTour license provides the necessary security to plan ahead and makes the job easier for the team management."
The Head of sport management and former T-Mobile pro, Rolf Aldag, also welcomed the news from the UCI-headquarter in Aigle. "Now armed with the license, we can approach contract talks with riders very differently. I'm convinced that we are assembling a strong team, capable of meeting our expectations, and not just on the bike," he said.
At the end of July, team sponsor T-Mobile International announced that its working relationship with Olaf Ludwig Cycling was set to end by October 31, but said it would continue its sponsorship engagement, as planned, with a new management regime and clear guidelines
The UCI also extended the licence for Alejandro Valverde's Spanish Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears team.