Gerald Ciolek is said to have signed with Omega Pharma-Lotto for the coming season,according to the Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen. Such a signing would seem to indicate that Team Milram will not continue as a ProTour team next year. Milram has denied that Ciolek has signed with another team.
The German ProTour team is losing its sponsor as of the end of 2010. General Manager Gerry van Gerwen reiterated that he would make his announcement on the Tour de France's second rest day, and would not comment until then. The possibility still exists that Nordmilch AG would be willing to stay on as a partial sponsor, and van Gerwen has said he is conducting promising negotiations with a potential new sponsor.
Van Gerwen denied the story to the German dpa news agency. “I asked Gerald. He told me there is nothing to it. As long as I can't make our riders a concrete offer for the comng season, then of course they are free to talk to anyone. But before they sign somewhere else, they must listen to my offer.”
The Belgian team did not respond to Cyclingnews' request for a comment on the story.
Ciolek, 23, is one of the team's two captains. He has only one win this season, a stage in the Bayern Rundfahrt. He first burst onto the scene by winning the German national road title in 2005 as an 18-year-old riding with the Continental team Akud Arnolds Sicherheit. The next season he won the U-23 World title in Salzburg.
The sprinter moved up to the ProTour in 2007 with T-Mobile Team, later Team Columbia. In the fall of 2008 he signed with Milram, along with teammate Linus Gerdemann, who became the other Milram captain.
Omega Pharma-Lotto has been searching for a new sprinter since Robbie McEwen left them for Katusha in 2009. The Belgian team is also said to be interested in signing HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel.