German mineral water producer Gerolsteiner, announced yesterday that they would not be renewing their sponsorship of the cycling team of the same name after 2008.
The current sponsorship deal was always set to end after next season and the decision leaves team boss Hans Michael Holczer looking for a new sponsor.
Holczer had always said that each doping scandal reduced the chance of continued sponsorship, but in the end, both he and the company state the decision was purely a business one.
?They have developed, and changed in to a company that is producing soft drinks now, and don?t only have mineral water,? Holczer told cyclingweekly.co.uk. ?For me there was evidence that there was no possibility for them to continue the sponsorship.
?They told me yesterday but I think I was aware of it for several months now. When you are with a partner for eight years, you can see when some things change.
?I?m enough of a business man to see the development the team took, and what development the main sponsor has taken,? he said.
The German company, that is owned by Nestlé, was primarily focused on the German market, and that proved another headache for Holczer, running a team in an increasingly international sport. ?The main problem with Gerolsteiner [was that] 30 percent of the media revenues was in the German market and the rest was just thrown away. So we have to look for an international sponsor.
?Before the German Tour I?d already contacted some possible sponsors, and I have already had some meetings with agencies. In the next few days we will have some meetings with interested companies.
?There are two possibilities, [a new sponsor] can start as a co-sponsor in 2008, or they can start in 2009 and take over the whole team. But Gerolsteiner are also willing to open the possibility for 2008 if a new sponsor comes and doesn?t want to wait. They are willing to say, ‘OK, we will let you take over the team next season’.
?I was on the way home [today], which takes three hours, and after two hours I had the first phone call from a big company which is interested, and wanted to talk to me. I never in my life expected that.?
Gerolsteiner has never been the most outspoken team when it comes to anti-doping measures, instead Holczer has opted to work more quietly behind the scenes.
He has consulted extensively with both Bob Stapleton at T-Mobile and with the French teams who have all combined to lead the clean-up in professional cycling.
The team in blue has one of the cleanest reputations in the sport, with Danilo Hondo the last of their riders to test positive in April 2005. He was promptly sacked. Director Sportive, Udo Bolts resigned from the team earlier this year following the confessions of Team Telekom riders from the mid nineties.