By Tick of
The opportunity to attend the Gerolsteiner team presentation was
one I couldn't pass up. For one thing, it was held in Gerolstein, and I never
miss a chance to travel in the beautiful Eifel. I also had a personal reason --
my husband designs and builds industrial robots which are used in the production
of PET bottles, and one of his newest customers is a major supplier to a famous
German mineral-water supplier.... And third, of course, how could I possibly
resist the temptation to see the team? I mean, to learn about their plans for
the season, to see the new jersey (and what was inside it) and so forth.
The presentation was held, not in a quarry with fog machines, lasers and
techno music, but in a warehouse, which had been divided into rooms with walls
made out of cases of water. Fifteen cases high, and I couldn't begin to count
how many across (keep it up guys, that means more contracts for my husband's
firm....) The tables for the press held coffee, cookies and, great surprise,
little bottles of water!
The press conference was hosted by Wolf-Dieter Poschmann, a German sports
reporter and sport show host. He doesn't particularly know anything about
cycling but that certainly didn't seem to bother him. The first guests were the
mayor of Gerolstein and the president of the company Gerolsteiner, neither of
whom knew much about cycling either, except that it means money in the pocket
The new jerseys were then introduced and they are definitely - blue. The
jerseys start out a very pale blue on the shoulders and then blend into a
sort-of medium powder blue which carries on to the shorts. This blue is "Cyan"
blue, but is now officially to be known as Gerolsteiner Blue, so let's be
careful what we call it out there!
I suppose one can get used to this jersey. A company official told us that
last year's jersey looked a heck of a lot like the jersey's from a lot of other
teams -- which it did -- and that solid colors show up better and so they picked
a color that no one else had. So this year when the helicopter tv shot looks
down at the peloton, the tv announcers can say with ease, "there is a
Gerolsteiner" and not "there is a Gerolsteiner, or is it a Fassa? or is it....?"
Which, of course, is what a sponsor wants -- to have his name mentioned, as
often as possible.
By the way, the jerseys were not modeled by the riders; three "lucky"
Gerolsteiner co-workers -- of the female persuasion -- did the honors.
Next, all of the sporting directors and team directors and
whatever-their-titles-are were presented. Seeing Udo Bölts in a suit and tie is
going to take some getting used to, but he seems eager to take on his new
Udo Bolts. Courtesy Gerolsteiner.
The most memorable quote from Hans Michael Holczer: "My inexperience in the
Tour carried itself over to the team." He was also quite proud of the fact that
three members of 1997 Ullrich/Telekom TDF-winning team are now associated with
Oh yes, not just the jerseys are baby blue, but the cars, the bikes, the
helmets...Thomas Ziegler says they all gulped the first time they saw all that
blue, but that when you see it all together, the blue jerseys and the blue
bikes, it looks quite good.... he said it with a straight face and acted as if
he really meant it....
Click for larger image. Courtesy
The team members came out in threes to be interviewed. They were wearing the
new jerseys by now. The best news of the day is that Rene Haselbacher was there
and announced that he hopes within the next three weeks to be able to ride his
bike again, and that he definitely plans to ride races again this year!
Poschmann told him that when he does race again, "I hope you wear the new outfit
all the way to the finish line -- the complete outfit!" and Hasi admitted he
usually reserved such displays of skin for the bedroom.....
Uwe Hardter admitted he didn't particularly care for being called a
domestique, but that water carrier isn't so bad, especially in association with
There are four Swiss riders on this time, and I must say that I understood
about one word in 20 that they spoke....
The Bad Hair award definitely goes to Paco Wrolich -- someone ought to tell
him not to stick his finger into an electric outlet....
What does Uwe Peschel plan for this year? "Fewer crashes!"
Danilo Hondo continues to look more and more like his idol Cipo (when I
looked at him it reminded me it was time to get my hair streaked again). He was
the major object of interviews later and was certainly never at a loss for
Danilo Hondo. Courtesy
Ronny Scholz: What is like being the son-in-law of the team manager? (lots of
laughter from his teammates). "He doesn't treat me any different from any of the
other riders (LOTS of laughter from his teammates).
First question on Davide Rebellin: How do you think you'll do in the Tour
this year? Is the route a good one for you? Answer: I'm going to concentrate on
the Classics and the Giro, it's not decided yet whether I will even ride the
Faresin, Rebellin and Serpellini. Courtesy
After the questioning, the riders posed together for a team photo. I sneaked
around the side and tried to make a few photos of them from the back --- just to
be able to show the jerseys from the back, of course, and perhaps how well the
new shorts fit....(See below.)
I listened in on an interview with Thomas Ziegler, who is in his first year
with a GS-I team. He said the differences between GS-III and GS-II weren't all
that different, but the difference with GS-I is huge.
Everything is bigger -- more journalists, more equipment, the races are
bigger and harder, the expections (of other) are much higher. He is an
exceptionally nice looking young man (they had changed back into suits, by the
way, and what man doesn't look good in a navy blazer and charcoal gray slacks?)
and when I looked at his tender age, I could only think ....this could be my
son...(by the way, his tie looked rather as if he had ridden over it a couple of
times with his bike).
Dinner finally started, or at least we all sat at the tables, and the show
continued. The sporting directors were being interviewed (again) and I took
advantage of that to go back into the other room and call my husband. Hardly had
I started arguing with my cell phone (which didn't want to believe that I wanted
to make a call) when I was surrounded by well-built young men in navy blazers
and gray slacks.
The riders had been sent out of the dining room (no, not for bad behavior!)
so that they could march back in, three at a time, to be interviewed yet again.
I'm sure it seemed like a good idea to the planners but they should have sent
some babysitters along -- the guys obviously saw this as their first chance to
relax a little and have a little fun.
They found the glasses of champagne, they read the unused press kits, used
the telephones Reserved For The Exclusive Use of the Press, they flirted with
the coat-check girls (I really hated to break up such an interesting
conversation and ask for my coat)....
Gerolsteiner for 2004
Fothen Marcus Neo
Waterwall. Click for larger image. Photo by Tick.
Click for larger image. Photo by Tick.
The promise of a new season...ladies.
Click for larger image. Photo by Tick.
Fabian Wegmann. Click for larger image. Photo by Tick.
Wegmann again...we're just checking... Click for larger image.
Photo by Tick.
Danilo Hondo...need we say more? Click for larger image.
Photo by Tick.