Canadian Cyclist


September 27/06 10:31 am - T-Mobile Extends to 2010, Announces Medical Program

Posted by Editoress on 09/27/06

T-Mobile Extends to 2010
Courtesy T-Mobile

The mobile communications company T-Mobile is further extending its cycling sponsorship to 2010. That was confirmed on Wednesday (September 27th) by T-Mobile International's Chief Finance Officer Thomas G. Winkler at the T-Mobile Team's press conference in Bonn. The early extension underscores the company's confidence in the rapid progress made by the cycling team's new management, led by general manager Bob Stapleton, and head of sport management, Rolf Aldag. This way, according to Winkler, the company also lives up to its "leadership role and commitment to a clean sport".

Only eight weeks after the appointment of the new team management, the foundation for the new team is taking excellent shape. "We packed eight months worth of work into just two months", stressed Stapleton, who not surprisingly called the task "somewhat of a challenge". Stapleton and Aldag are supported by a largely new international team of Sport Directors, including Brian Holm (Denmark), Allan Peiper (Australia), Tristan Hoffman (Netherlands), and Valerio Piva (Italy). Completing the management team are Luuc Eisenga (Netherlands), who will be the technical director and team liaison and Bruce Carmedelle (USA), business manager. The University Clinic in Freiburg will supervise the team's medical and training program.

"Our first step is to bring in good people that have fresh ideas and are motivated to create positive change", said Stapleton. "Rolf and I are pleased to work with such a motivated and capable group", he added.

This fresh view and commitment to change is also demonstrated by the new comprehensive medical and training program introduced on Wednesday (see separate Daily News announcement). Supported by a newly created expert advisory board, this program combines the best of available science and practical application to the sport of cycling. "The program brings innovative methods and new procedures from training and athletic development, anti-doping testing and monitoring, and sports psychology", explains team doctor Dr. Lothar Heinrich. "With the dynamic interaction of our board and team management we can continue to build and improve our program", adds Stapleton.

The riders' medical supervision will rest exclusively in the hands of Professor Andreas Schmid's medical team at the University of Freiburg, and new stricter internal controls will include a state-of-the-art blood volume test. Furthermore the medical program will be monitored by external, independent experts, to guarantee its long-term effectiveness. "All riders know our concept and our rules", said sporting director Aldag, who insists on a clear commitment to the team's principles and strict code of conduct.

In building the foundation of a "team for the future", Aldag stresses the importance of the riders' strength of character as well as their athletic potential. "We need riders with a good heart, a good head and good legs who will work well together as a team", says Aldag, who on Wednesday announced the addition of eleven new riders to the team.

Joining the squad for 2007 are Michael Barry (30/Canada), Mark Cavendish (21/Great Britain), Gerald Ciolek (20/Germany), Bernhard Eisel (25/Austria), Bert Grabsch (30/Germany), Roger Hammond (31/Great Britain), Servais Knaven (35/Netherlands), Axel Merckx (34/Belgium), Aaron Olsen (28/USA), Jacob Piil (33/Denmark) and Marco Pinotti (30/Italy).

The goal is to be highly competitive throughout the whole year and to broaden the scope of interest in the team, says Aldag. Along the way, young riders like sprinter Gerald Ciolek will be mentored by older team mates, who will pass on their experience and prepare these fresh talents to grow quickly.

A lynchpin of the team's new structure is the Australian Michael Rogers. The team management is putting its faith in the three-time ITT World champion as a future captain and GC rider. The 26-year old Rogers has the "character and mentality" to lead a team, says Rolf Aldag, who refers to 2007 as a building year for the T-Mobile Team.

Alongside Rogers, the team management is retaining the following riders: Eric Baumann (26/Germany), Lorenzo Bernucci (27/Italy), Scott Davis (27/Australia), Linus Gerdemann (24/Germany), Andre Greipel (24/Germany), Giuseppe Guerini (36/Italy), Serhiy Honchar (36/Ukraine), Kim Kirchen (28/Luxembourg), Andreas Klier (30), Andre Korff (33/Germany), Frantisek Rabon, (23/Czech Republic) Stephan Schreck (28/Germany), Patrik Sinkewitz (25/Germany) and Thomas Ziegler (25/Germany).

T-Mobile Announces Comprehensive Medical Program
Courtesy T-Mobile

The T-Mobile Team's tough stance in the fight against doping combines the best of medical science and training methods. From now on, the riders' medical supervision will rest exclusively in the hands of Professor Andreas Schmid's medical team at the University of Freiburg.

"A comprehensive medical, training and anti-doping program can only evolve in a framework that joins up prevention, control and a superior training environment for motivated athletes," says Schmid. "The necessary transparency must then be assured and maintained through a strict quality management and a focus on the best methods available in science and sport". The medical team will be supported by an independent expert advisory board, made up of specialists from a range of different areas.

The top priority is to support and enable athletes perform better without breaking rules or risking their health. Crucial to this initiative is the support of sporting directors and experienced pros, as well as communication with youth coaches. "They can inform us of a rider's technical ability and tactical sharpness. Then we can use performance diagnostics tests, as well as the analysis of training and racing data, to benchmark a rider's physiological capability", says team doctor Lothar Heinrich from Freiburg's University clinic.

According to Heinrich, the involvement of a sports scientist guarantees that there is consistent evaluation and monitoring of the training methods applied by all riders. Close consultation with selected personal coaches will also ensure that riders follow individually-tailored, high-quality training programs, and further endurance potential can be identified and maximised. More intensive physiotherapy care will also be integrated into the riders' training programs. For that, a central contact point will be established, where athletes can go for diagnostics and therapy. Further training will also be organized for the team's physios.

Schmid reports that sports psychology will in future also play a role in the support staff and riders' mental preparation, via techniques used in group and one-on-one therapy sessions. "Psychological factors have a considerable influence on performance capability and results. But before now it was never really a consistent part of the team supervision." The team will also work closer with experienced nutritionists to improve sports nutrition.

The effectiveness of an anti-doping control system depends on the reliability of the test methods. That's why anti-doping tests are conducted by independent authorities like NADA and WADA and analysed in specialised laboratories. "The T-Mobile Team will also conduct a guaranteed minimum number of unannounced out-of-competition tests on all team riders", says Heinrich. All samples will be tested for substances frequently used to boost performance in endurance sports (i.e. EPO, growth hormones). To make this possible, the NADA will in future receive financial support from T-Mobile.

Under the supervision of an independent, international panel of experts, riders will be screened to determine individual data. The screening process will use scientific tests to detect use of doping substances, or methods not yet officially tested for in independent controls, but which can be directly or indirectly revealed. The data determined will be shown to the independent panel of experts at regular intervals. Where anomalies are apparent, internal action can be taken - either through further controls, or contractual sanctions.

One of these new test methods is the so-called blood volume measurement. "This method, improved by scientific research in recent years, can indirectly reveal evidence of EPO use or blood transfusions", explains Lothar Heinrich. This test is particularly effective and precise when screening red haemogram values (reticulocyte, haemoglobin, haematocrit and the On/Off scores established) to determine irregularities brought about by manipulation.

The T-Mobile Team riders' blood volume will in future be tested a minimum of six times per season and monitored by independent experts from Prof. Dr. Dr. Walter Schmidt's work group in Bayreuth. Apart from the obligatory International Cycling Union (UCI) controls, a minimum of two more random tests will be conducted directly after competition.

Furthermore, all athletes will be subject to health profiling. The profiles will be built up from their physical make-up as determined by laboratory testing, samples taken from in and out of competition tests, data from physiology tests, training data as well as a DNA-identity test. Test data taken over time can then be compared against these profiles to detect any anomalies.

"We will of course also align this control system with the German Cycling federation's anti-doping programme", say Schmid. In turn, this control system will be developed into a national and international standard over the course of this year. Talks will follow between the German Cycling Federation, the International Cycling Union, the ProTour organisers and other race organisers.

"All riders are familiar with our concept and our rules", says head of sport management Rolf Aldag, who demands a clear commitment to these conditions. He is backed by T-Mobile International Chief Finance Officer Thomas G. Winkler. "We have a clear line and a zero tolerance policy. We firmly count on others to take the same stance. We consider it the only way forward."

An array of independent experts will come on board to support the T-Mobile Team next season. Sebastian Weber, a sports scientist, specialising in cycling at the German Sport University Cologne, will act as team consultant in the area of "sport science and training". Long-time team partner SRM will again provide the online training and analysis software (TrainingsPeaks).

Sports psychologists Dr. Hans-Dieter Hermann and Dr. Jan Mayer, who comanage the highly-successful "Mentales Coaching" practice, will work with the team in their field. Dietetics specialist Beate Pfeiffer will supervise team nutrition, with support from T-Mobile Team partner, PowerBar, and team chef Walter Grozinger. The team's physiotherapy care will be centred on the Mooswald Clinic in Freiburg, where special physical examinations and therapy will be provided for the cyclists, as well as further training for team personnel. The contact at the center is Armin Brucker.


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