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Fothen given back lost time

Holczer talks objectives and sponsor search

By Shane Stokes in Saint Brieuc

Former white jersey-wearer Markus Fothen was disappointed Saturday evening to be given a finishing time 57 seconds behind stage one winner Alejandro Valverde, after suffering a puncture inside the final three kilometres. Normally, incidents inside this mark which separate a rider from the group do not result in a loss of time, and Fothen and team manager Hans Michael Holczer set about appealing the decision today.

"I am looking for the commissaires, I couldn't find them so far but I think I will talk to them before the race," said Holczer in the village depart on Sunday morning.

"Markus punctured inside the final three kilometres, we think that he shouldn't have lost so much time. The problem is that the rules don't say what happens if the group splits again. Normally the rule says that he gets the time of the riders in the group where he was at the moment he got a flat tyre or crashed or whatever, but it broke up on the climb. I think we have to negotiate a little bit."

The appeal was indeed successful, with the race jury announcing after the stage that Fothen and Romain Feillu (Agritubel) would get a time eighteen seconds behind Valverde.

Holczer spoke to Cyclingnews about the aims of the team, saying that Fothen and Bernhard Kohl would lead the GC aspirations. "I hope that in Markus and Bernhard we have two guys who can look for the overall...not perhaps the first ten, but [to finish] in the first twenty should be possible.

"We also have Robert Förster, a strong sprinter, and Sebastian Lang is a good time trialist. I think we are pretty good for these things, and then we have Stefan Schumacher and Fabian Wegmann for the groups, or for the finishes like you saw yesterday."

The pressure is on the team, with Holczer confirming that he is still no closer to finding a replacement sponsor for next year. "We are still looking. We will use the Tour de France here as a platform, to try to attract sponsors and to tell people ‘look, this is what you can get if you come to this team.'

"We came to a point before the Tour when we said that we had to talk to everyone [the prospective backers] about how big their interest is, and we saw that there will be no contract out of this. So we are restarting now. The deadline will be the end of August."

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