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Aldag: "The German races"

By Susan Westemeyer

It's a sure sign that things have changed at Team T-Mobile, when the sports directors answer to the question of the most important races of the year is "the German races." Rolf Aldag listed not only the Deutschland Tour and the Hamburg Cyclassics, but "also the smaller stage races like the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt," and a few others, even, before mentioning, almost as an afterthought, the Tour de France.

Aldag is with his team on the island of Mallorca for the training camp. The team's new beginning includes changes there, too. "There are many new possibilities. Every rider gets an individual training plan every day. We didn't have that in the past," he told

He doesn't expect the youngsters on the team to go out and win every race this season. "I expect commitment and a competitive spirit, good fitness and the readiness of every rider to give his best. Of course we also want to be successful and bring in a few wins. But we will give the team the necessary time to develop." For example, youngster Gerald Ciolek "will have the chance to start in Milan-Sanremo. But only to gather experience and to learn."

T-Mobile's "new beginning" was brought about by the doping scandals of 2006. "Sometimes you need a difficult situation in order to see things clearly, to change things and to start over again. Operación Puerto was that kind of situation," Aldag noted. "The happenings over the summer were an earthquake, a disaster. Cycling is starting from nothing. The time has come for a new beginning. Now we're going in the right direction."