Rolf Aldag returns to cycling full-time with OmegaPharma-Quick Step after one year away from the sport. The German takes on a new Sport and Development Manager position within the team after working part-time as a technical advisor and with Ironman Germany.
"I will try to synchronise and coordinate schedules and technical development," Aldag told Cycling Weekly. "The role still needs to develop, it does not yet exist and it makes it more difficult to describe it. The position will grow and I will grow with it."
The German developed as a sports director within the Highroad team, became the Team Manager by 2011, and was key to the teams incredible success. When Bob Stapleton had to fold the team after an unsuccessful sponsor search Aldag took up other work outside of the sport.
Aldag will team up again with Mark Cavendish and Tony Martin but also look over such stars as Tom Boonen. He will report directly to General Manager Patrick Lefevere and coordinate with the riders and sports directors to make sure they are ready for their goals.
"We have Tom Boonen, we all know the spring classics will be his big goal so for me it's important to see how we get them there. That's talking to his trainers to coordinate where he needs to race so he's at his physical best. [The programme] needs to be confirmed with the sports directors and what he needs for [those goals] needs to be confirmed with all the suppliers. Do we need special bikes, saddles, testing? Where can we do it? When we are at our training camps? It's coordinating and connecting the different departments."
He sees the role similar to Allan Peiper's new role with BMC Racing, but with a bigger picture and more forward thinking. He will consider goals for Cavendish and the others for the coming years, and they will reach them.
"It probably makes it easier to be successful with Mark in the team, but it doesn't mean it makes it easier in terms of coordinating individual goals. My view is Tom Boonen has done great things and he has to have his role in that team, he deserves it and has earned it. So coordinating two stars doesn't make it easier. If it is a one-man show it's easy.
"Tom doesn't have GC ambitions and we don't have that guy for the Tour. Both are focused on success, but both are human enough to understand there's enough space to compromise and help each other. Tom knows you don't win a one-day classic without a team and Cav is aware how difficult it is to win a sprint without a team. ... If we can really define their individual goals, then it's much less a problem than having Bradley Wiggins trying to win the Tour and having Mark Cavendish trying to win the green jersey. That's obviously a conflict there is no real solution for, you can't really blame Sky for that [because] they had a chance to win the Tour as a British team with a British rider, there was really no plan B."
Aldag helped the team already this season, but was mostly involved as the Managing Director of Ironman Germany. He organised events, which meant coordinating the set-up of the fencing, finishing arches, timing equipment and everything else that is was already in place when he raced or worked in the last six years as a sports director. The Ironman work became too much, though, as he was away from home and daughter more than he was when he travelled to Grand Tours. However, he added, "It gave me an interesting insight never learnt so much in one year
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