“Cycling needs Germany”, says Milram boss Gerry Van Gerwen
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“Cycling needs Germany”, says Milram boss Gerry Van Gerwen

by Ben Atkins at 12:03 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
No German ProTeams in 2011 not good for the sport

milramTeam Milram will race its last ever European race at the Giro di Lombardia on October 16th, before it ceases to exist at the end of the season. In 2011 there will be no representative from Germany at the top level of cycling for twenty years. For the team’s general manager Gerry Van Gerwen, this is not a good thing for the sport.

“Cycling needs Germany,” the Dutchman told Sponsor Magazine. “The question is whether Germany needs professional cycling. For me, Germany is still a very important market, maybe even the best.”

Van Gerwen has known for a long time that his team’s sponsor, Bremen based dairy producer Nordmilch AG, was pulling out at the end of 2010. He attempted to persuade them to stay on for another year, but got the final confirmation in July that he had been unsuccessful; his season-long hunt for a replacement has come to nothing also, meaning that the team will have to fold.

The loss of the Milram team is yet another blow to German cycling, that not so long ago was one of the most dominant countries in Europe. In 2006 and 2007 there were three teams in the ProTour sponsored by German companies: T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner and Milram (although Milram was registered in Italy until 2008).

The emergence of doping in the T-Mobile team’s past saw the cellphone operater withdraw its support towards the end of 2007; it has since become the US-registered HTC-Columbia, although it does still have a number of German riders and staff. Gerolsteiner too was beset with doping scandals and the mineral water producer pulled out at the end of 2008, leaving only Milram.

These scandals, along with the current economic climate and the dearth of German cycling superstars, doesn’t augur well for the immediate future.

“There are currently no signals from the local economy that it could go back up again,” said Van Gerwen, “and also the sporting role models of the time like Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel, are not currently around.”

Van Gerwen has not given up on running a team at the top of the sport though. While he has had to admit defeat and fold the Milram team, he hopes to be back in the sport for 2012.

“Hopefully with a German license,” he said.


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