Team Stolting to stop at end of season

Team Stölting has announced it will stop at the end of this month, which is the end of Germany's only remaining Professional Continental team.

Stölting had been a Continental ranked team for several years, before last year announcing its intention of moving up to the Professional Continental ranks by co-sponsoring the Cult Energy Team. However, the Danish sponsor said in December 2015 that it was withdrawing from both the deal and the team, putting blame on Stölting for not fulfilling its obligations. The German firm denied the claims and took over solo sponsorship of the team.

This year's team was mainly German and Danish riders, with such top names and former top ranked riders as Linus Gerdemann, Gerald Ciolek and Fabian Wegmann. However, wins were far and few between in 2016, and the search for new co-sponsor was equally unsuccessful.  

Over the summer the team announced it would drop to the Continental level in 2017, but this week team manager Christian Grosse Kreul said that instead, the team would stop at the end of the season.

One reason is that most of the team's 20 riders had already found new teams for 2017. Two are moving up to the World Tour: Mads Pedersen to Trek-Segafredo and Lennard Kämna, fourth in the U-23 Worlds time trial, to Team Sunweb.

The three top riders, all over 30 and with a noted lack of success this year, are not amongst those with new teams. Wegmann, who turned pro in 2002 with Gerolsteiner, announced he will retire, at age 36. Gerdemann, 34, and Ciolek, 30, have not announced their plans. Ciolek, who surprisingly won Milan-SanRemo in 2013, has not had a win since the Vuelta a Andalucia in 2014. Gerdemann, who wore the yellow jersey at the Tour of France in 2007, last won the Tour of Luxembourg in 2015.

The end of Stölting means that there will be no German Professional Continental teams in 2017. The other Pro Conti team this year, Bora-Argon, will join the World Tour ranks as Bora-Hansgrohe in 2017, where it joins Team Sunweb-Giant as a German team. There were seven German-registered Continental teams in 2016, and it is assumed all will continue in the coming season.

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