Austrian climber Bernhard Kohl, third in this year?s Tour de France, has signed for three years with Silence-Lotto.

Kohl?s signing is part of Silence-Lotto?s drive to reinforce their team for the mountains in the Tour – an area where their stage race leader Cadel Evans had little support in both 2008 and 2007.

The Silence-Lotto press release makes it clear that the Austrian can forget about his own ambitions in the Tour, saying Kohl can become ?an absolute value at the top of the major Tours without being immediately set under pressure.

“With Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto has an absolute leader for the next two years.?

Fifth-year pro Kohl is not the only former Gerolsteiner rider to have signed with Silence-Lotto.

The same release announces that Sebastian Lang, who briefly held the King of the Mountains lead in the 2008 Tour, has also done a deal with Silence-Lotto and claims that Briton Charly Wegelius has signed for the team. Wegelius has yet to confirm this news directly.

At the same time it has emerged that a third main sponsor, Q8 – an oil company from Kuwait with major interests in Belgium – will be backing Silence-Lotto from 2009.