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The 'new' T-Mobile team headed by Bob Stapleton, with Rolf Aldag as head of sport management, has been given ProTour licence for the next four years by the International Cycling Union. The licence has been awarded to High Road Sports, Inc and its sister company Neuer Straáen Sport GmbH, which both belong to the team's future general manager, Stapleton, writes Susanne Horsdal.
"This is an important step for both our team and the ProTour. The UCI immediately recognised the value that T-Mobile brings to cycling and respects the team management's commitment to clean and fair sport. We are making good progress as a team and are happy for this important validation," said Stapleton in a statement on the team's website. As Stapleton stressed, the award of the licence is "a first step in the ongoing restructuring of the team".
T-Mobile is in the process of rebuilding the team on the managerial as well as on the sports front following the 'divorce' from Olaf Ludwig and his company Olaf Ludwig Cycling, which holds the team's ProTour licence through to the end of 2006. The rebuilding process is also set to see several of the team's most prominent riders leaving for other squads.
Over the weekend, Andreas Klden and Matthias Kessler decided to sign two-year deals with former T-Mobile stalwart Alexandre Vinokourov's Astana team, a move that surprised even Walter Godefroot, a former head of T-Mobile and currently an adviser to Astana. "I'm very surprised because for sure Klden won't be team captain at Astana," the Belgian told German press agency DPA.
Going in the other direction is former Paris- Roubaix winner Servais Knaven, who is leaving Quick Step to ride for the German team for the next two years. One of the reasons for this move is that the Dutchman still feels he can get results in the spring Classics but won't be given the opportunity to do so while riding in the same team as world champion Tom Boonen.
Dane Jakob Piil is very likely to follow Knaven to T-Mobile. Piil, who's had his last couple of seasons ruined by injury, was very disappointed not to be on CSC's roster for the Vuelta and has told the Danish media he's close to signing a deal with the Germans.
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