Once one of the strongest cycling nations, Germany is now on the brink of losing its last remaining ProTour cycling team as Milram announces it is considering pulling sponsorship from the squad that uses its name.
Nordmilch AG – the parent company of Milram – issued a statement on its website on Thursday confirming the rumours that it was reconsidering its sponsorship of the cycling team.
The contract was due to continue until 2010, but the continued poor profile of cycling in Germany after a string of doping scandals has left sponsors unwilling to be associated with the sport.
In 2007 Milram’s Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi tested positive for Salbutamol at the Giro d’Itaia and was banned for a year and ejected from the team. Then Erik Zabel – the darling of the German cycling scene – admitted to ‘trying’ EPO in the 1990s when part of the T-Mobile team, another German squad to have imploded due to drugs scandals.
Milram’s probable departure from the sport comes after the Gerolsteiner team folded this year when the mineral water company elected not to renew its sponsorship of the squad as a result of Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl both testing positive for EPO during the Tour de France. The team could not find another sponsor.
German cycling fans are also suffering after the cancellation of German Six Day races and the withdrawal of Tour coverage by German TV stations.