Germany's Tobias Erler will return to professional cycling in 2010 with Iranian squad, Tabriz Petrochemicals. The 30-year-old had spent the 2009 season away from professional competition as he completed a teaching degree, but will now return to the Continental level of the sport.
Erler's connection to Tabriz stems from his first season as a professional with the Giant Asia Racing Team. "When I went to Giant in 2006, Ghader Mizbani was my teammate there," Erler told Radsport News. "I never broke off contact with him and our then-Giant masseur. They'd previously asked me what I was doing, but a move back to their team [didn't arise until now]."
A winner of the Tour of Korea in his debut season, Erler then moved to German Continental team 3C Gruppe – Lamonta. He spent two seasons with the team before he took time off to further his professional qualifications last year.
Erler will meet his new teammates in early February when the squad comes together in Iran for a training camp. Despite tensions between the government of the middle-eastern nation and the broader international community, it is an experience Erler is looking forward to.
"I have no fear of traveling in Iran, but I'm very curious to learn about people and their country," he said. "Also, I'm not the first member of the German cycling community to travel there. Wolfram Lindner and Otto Altweg have already been working there as coaches."
Erler admitted that his race programme for a return to professional cycling is still to be finalized, but he indicated that a starts at the Tour de Langkawi and Tours of Taiwan and Thailand are being considered.
The 2010 roster for Tabriz is: Erler, Kazakh Andrey Mizourov, and Iranian riders Mizbani, Hossein Askari, Abolfazl Gilanipoor, Hossein Jahabanian, Ahad Kazemi, Samad Poor Seiedi and Mahdi Sohrabi.