The Canyon-SRAM women's team have confirmed that Rolf Aldag has taken up the role of directeur sportif after his time at the men's Dimension Data team.
The 51-year-old German quit Dimension Data after a fall-out concerning Mark Cavendish's non-selection for the Tour de France.
Aldag was Head of Performance at Dimension Data but described himself as a 'rookie' as he began working with Canyon-SRAM at their training camp in Mallorca this week.
Canyon-SRAM are one of eight teams that have applied to be part of the top-tier of women's racing in 2020. They will have WorldTour status along with Alé BTC Ljubljana, CCC-Liv, FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope, Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar Team Women, Team Sunweb and Trek-Segafredo.
"First of all, I would describe myself as a rookie in what I am going to do. I don't think it would be wise to believe I should come on board and try to copy and paste things that worked in the men's sport. So I will talk to all of the experienced team members from and aim to get the best information out there," Aldag said when the news of his new role was announced.
"I wouldn't say that I am nervous about joining a new team, but rather I have a feeling of excitement to enter a new chapter in my working career. Especially, because it will be filled with some tasks that I haven't done before. Knowing that I enter already existing, good practicing structures at Canyon-SRAM provides me with the needed confidence."
Aldag first worked with Canyon-SRAM team owner and manager Ronny Lauke at the HTC Highroad squad in 2008. They are back together after Aldag worked for QuickStep and Dimension Data.
Aldag rode as a professional between 1990 and 2005, with the last 13 of those seasons being for Telekom/T-Mobile. In 2007, he was one of a number of former T-Mobile riders who admitted to having used EPO while racing in the 1990s, and T-Mobile pulled out of sponsoring the team at the end of the 2007 season, sparking a decline in German cycling.
"Ronny and I never lost contact over the years; whenever we had a chance to chat, we took it. Ronny is a man of principle, so he didn't change a lot over the last years and I’m happy to work with him again," Aldag said.
"It is clear that the team is run in a very professional way. At races I never noticed that anything was missing or going wrong. The team stands for consistent performance due to well-prepared riders, good teamwork, focus on details, but mainly because Ronny was always able to bring good people on board. That goes for riders, staff, management and for sure for all of the technical partners. I am looking forward to becoming part of this group and hope that my work will help the team reach its goals to be as successful as possible."
16-rider roster for 2020
Last week Canyon-SRAM confirmed their 16-rider roster for the 2020 season. In a statement, Lauke has said that the team boasted one of the youngest average ages amongst the top-ranked UCI women’s teams in 2019, and that they have maintained their focus on building a team of talented, passionate riders with a mix of youth and experience.
Canyon-SRAM have already announced a series of returning riders, who had signed multi-year contracts in previous seasons, such as Tiffany Cromwell and Hannah Barnes. Last year's Zwift Academy winner Ella Harris is also returning. They will be joined by returning teammates Alena Amialiusik, Alice Barnes, Elena Cecchini, Tanja Erath, mountain bike world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Rotem Gafinovitz, Lisa Klein, Hannah Ludwig, Kasia Niewiadoma, Christa Riffel, Alexis Ryan and Omer Shapira. The final rider will be announced after the Canyon-SRAM Zwift Academy finals at the team’s training camp in Malaga, Spain.
"I am very pleased that Rolf is joining our team. I believe it's the best option we could ask for where the sport is becoming more complex in its structure," Lauke said.
"The sport is evolving fast and the level of professionalism is growing. We have run the team so far with a small management structure with everyone involved fulfilling multiple roles. With, hopefully, news of the Women's WorldTour status of our team, the demands on a team’s structure are much higher and we need to focus even more in the various areas of a team such as sport, health, marketing and administration.
"Rolf has been one of the architects of some of the most successful teams in the past ten years, proving that he is able to help talented riders reach the very top of the sport. Although Rolf is new in the female side of the sport, I am confident he will be important to us to assure further progress and stability. At the end it's the same on male or female side of the sport; groups of human beings who want to win bike races."
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