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Sports

Milram Pledges New Beginnings as Last German Pro Cycling Team

Germany's Milram cycling team has presented its new line-up vowing to make a fresh start for the 2009 season as the country's last major team in the sport.

Linus Gerdemann, right, Gerald Ciolek, center, and Fabian Wegmann, left

Gerdemann and Ciolek will head a youthful Milram team

Milram on Thursday, Jan. 8, announced a young team with 17 of its 25 riders from Germany, led by captains Linus Gerdemann and Gerald Ciolek.

"In the end, this is the last pro-tour team in Germany," Gerdemann told Deutsche Welle on Wednesday. "I think we have a gigantic responsibility.

"This team is not only made up of survivors, these are also people who can do what is asked of them when they're depended on."

The team's future had been in doubt before dairy products company Nordmilch in December agreed to maintain its team sponsorship deal until the end of 2010.

Bad press turns sponsors away

The Milram team

The new Milram team will be highly scrutinized after several doping cases

Nordmilch had reviewed its engagement after cycling continued to make negative headlines with doping cases, prompting German state networks ARD and ZDF to decide against broadcasting the 2009 Tour de France.

"Whoever is caught doping will be out," said Claus Peter Fischer, member of the Nordmilch board.

"We are reviewing our budget every year and find ourselves in a difficult position. We need heroes again in cycling."

Milram is the last major German team in the sport. Deutsche Telekom quit as sponsor last year over several doping cases. Gerolsteiner ended its engagement on Dec. 31, with team principle Hans-Michael Holczer unable to find a new sponsor.

Milram is starting the year under the motto "Everything new -- Everything different" and has pledged "maximum transparency" on doping. Last year it canceled contracts with former world champion Igor Astarloa and sprinter Alessandro Petacchi as a result of doping suspicions.

Van Gerwen said the team had all-around quality and would be riding every race to win.

"The mixture of young riders and experienced pros is a good one and the combination of team unity and individual class will enable us to perform at the highest level," he said.

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