Aldag building "a team of character"

Rolf Aldag at Paris-Tours 2005

Rolf Aldag at Paris-Tours 2005 (Image credit: Régis Garnier)

Rolf Aldag, former T-Mobile rider, will take over the position of sports director for the team this fall. He and the new management are full of big plans for changing the team - both its makeup and its philosophy. Aldag revealed a few details of these changes in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau.

The team management is willing to wait for the future "We feel no pressure and don't need to win every race in 2007 We can live fine with that. I put more value on building a team with perspective. That requires strength and time. We have both," he explained.

In addition, "We need a team of character. It's not a secret that our team spirit wasn't always the best the last few years." Specifically, he said, there must be "respect and acceptance of one another's work." For example, "We have someone working on an equal level with a colleague who earns only a small percentage of what a highly-paid pro receives. His job might be to wash bikes when it is 4° and raining. This colleague gets his motivation from the riders. But when a rider shows up at the start wearing four rain jackets and says 'I'm only riding for training today, I don't care,' then that's a catastrophe."

The team's anti-doping policy is being made clear to the riders from the very first talks. "We present our concept and our rules to every rider who rides for us now or wants to come to us. I want to hear a clear 'yes' before I start to speak with his manager about finances. We don't accept a 'yes, but...." Not that he heard it that often. "Most of them didn't say directly to my face that they wouldn't agree to the anti-doping program. Instead they would say they had a better offer from another team."

The team will introduce blood volume tests, and "we plan to make a DNA test for every rider. Our lawyers still have to approve that, though," he noted. In addition, riders will not have their choice of outside doctors. "We will allow only the use of the University Clinic in Freiburg. It was never clear to me why a rider would pay an outside doctor ten percent of his salary, when a university clinic can do everything that is allowed, without requiring the rider to pay a single cent."

The T-Mobile team of the future will be a young one, but the Old Guard will still be around to help the youngsters. "We have experienced riders like Giuseppe Guerini who will stay with us. It is my idea to have these experience people at the side of the young riders. In the sprint department, for example, I can see André Korff in this role, as someone who has a lot of experience and is in the position to pass it on to newcomer Gerald Ciolek."

There will not only be new faces mixed with familiar ones among the riders, but also among the sports directors. "Not all of them will go. Brian Holm and Valerio Piva are definitely staying," Aldag added.

The tall German also confirmed the team's interest in Jens Voigt, but doubts that he will ride for them in 2007. Whether Voigt will come after that is also not clear: "We must first wait and see what his plans for the future are next year." However, Aldag could well imagine Voigt in a management role at the team. "I made that clear to him. As a German rider on a German team with a German sponsor, you have a lot more possibilities for the time after the active career."

Looking at two big names who have left the team for Astana, Andreas Klöden and Matthias Kessler, Aldag noted that the team had not made Kessler an offer. "I told Andreas that he is capable of winning the Tour de France in the next few years - and not just once." He even asked Klöden if he wanted specific personnel, either in team management, as riders, a masseur or mechanic. But in the end, Klöden left the team. Apparently not due to money, as "his manager publicly said that the offers were pretty much the same. He would have earned well with us and had a lot of responsibility - as the leading figure in a team that is being newly built. Obviously Andreas didn't want to accept this responsibility. He chose the role of a helper at Astana."

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