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Both team manager, and sporting director of the T-Mobile squad have been sacked by the sponsor, according to German daily Bild. Olaf Ludwig and Mario Kummer were apparently sacked after riders complained of them making a number of serious tactical failures during the season.
According to Bild, disagreements have been taking place since the beginning of the year, building to a vote of no confidence among team members. Three-time world time trial champion Michael Rogers complained of a lack of team tactics for the Alpine stages of this year Tour de France, notably when Floyd Landis was allowed excessive leeway on the stage to Morzine. The team were also highly criticised for attacking too early in the Pyrenees on the stage to Pla de Beret, where team leader Andreas Klden ended up losing 1-29 to Landis.
Initial indications point to Ludwig and Kummer being replaced by the head of the T-Mobile women's team, Bob Stapleton, and the ZDF commentator Rolf Aldag, who has already been working with the Bonn-based team as an advisor since last year. These changes have been confirmed as strong possibilities by spokesman Christian Frommert, after the sponsor demanded an investigation into the "fundamental structure and personnel" within the team.
Frommert has, though, denied that closer cooperation with Aldag and Stapleton meant parting company with Ludwig. He told Spiegel Online: "After we get back from France, we are going to speak about how both (Aldag and Stapleton) can play a bigger role. But that was planned a long time ago. It has nothing to do with a sacking or replacement of Olaf Ludwig."
If problems within management wasn't serious enough for the German sponsor, the uncertain contract of one of their strongest riders, Andreas Kloden, hangs in the balance. After missing most of his competitive season because of a training injury back in March, his return to the Tour de France saw him climb onto the winner's podium in third place.
He told Spiegel Online: "My manager, Tony Rominger, has received three offers, although none of those are from T-Mobile. I'd certainly like to continue riding with my team-mates."
Andreas Klden also told the press he thinks it was wrong of his team to suspend Jan Ullrich before the Tour and thinks that T-Mobile would have won had he been allowed to ride. Klden said "we fought till the end for Jan, so he can be proud of us. Jan was innocent. I know him, he's a good friend of mine."
Ullrich, meanwhile, has said that he'll not fight his sacking because he wants to start afresh with another team, looking to end his career with a Tour win. Speaking to Swiss daily Blick, Ullrich said: "Not once in my career have I cheated the other riders. I have always said I will finish with a Tour victory. Unfortunately, this year I was prevented from doing so, that's why I will try to add another year."
The German rider says that he's been in contact with the Discovery Channel team, but that no concrete agreement had been reached.
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