Team Wiesenhof-Felt will end its operations after failing to secure a new sponsor for 2008, the team announced Friday. Business manager Raphael Schweda made the announcement: "Despite many positive conversations, we are not able to present a new title sponsor for the 2008 season." Cycling Sports GmbH, which holds the Professional Continental team's license, has not applied for a new license for the coming season.
Wiesenhof GmbH announced in May that it would not renew its sponsorship of the team, leading to a long search for a new sponsor that was hampered by recent controversies in the sport inside its home country of Germany.
Schweda put part of the blame on the recent World Championships in Stuttgart and the resulting bad publicity. "In the time right after the Deutschland Tour, we noticed a marked upward trend, that there was an increased interest in an engagement in professional cycling," Schweda said. "Unfortunately we were not able to cope with the problematic discussion about the Worlds. It is therefore tragic, that we, as a clean team with many young riders and other employees have to pay for the mistakes and omissions of others. As a team, we have always worked hard for the education and development of young talent into the world class. In the end, we were weren't rewarded for that."
However, Cycling Sports GmbH is not giving up entirely. According to Sport Director Jens Heppner, "It is too bad that we won't have a team for the 2008 season, but that does not mean that we are climbing out of professional cycling. Things are ended for the coming season, but we are starting with the search for a sponsor for the 2009 season. Now we will observe the scene from the outside. Our concept remains unchanged. And the economy will be interested in cycling again some day."
The team started as the GS-III Team Winfex Techem in 2003. It had its first major success in 2004 when Linus Gerdemann won the U23 national title, which he repeated in 2005. Wiesenhof, a poultry producer, took over as title sponsor in 2006. It has provided the U23 world champions on the road in the last two years, with Gerald Ciolek in 2006 and Peter Velits this year.
The team's biggest success in a ProTour race this season was Steffen Wesemann's third-place in Paris-Roubaix. The team received wild-card invitations to numerous ProTour races, including the upcoming Paris-Tours.
Schweda said that his goal was to become the team manager of a ProTour team, and he had hoped to move all the way up with this team, hopes which have now been dashed. "I wouldn't want to miss all those years in management," he said. "We can all be proud to have achieved so much with so few resources. Despite all the strain, it was a good time with many good moments. We can be satisfied with what we have accomplished, especially looking back at all the young riders that we helped bring into the pro business."
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