Columbia signs Monfort
By Andrew Hood
Linus Gerdemann, the promising German hopeful who wore the yellow jersey in the 2007 Tour de France, has signed a two-year deal to join Milram.
The 26-year-old, who raced three seasons with T-Mobile/Team Columbia, will give the last remaining big German squad a marquee national rider for the 2009 season.
“We are very happy about the signing of Linus Gerdemann,” said team manager Gerry Van Gerwen. “After long negotiations, we can finally confirm the transfer. In Linus, we have a rider we most wanted, who will lead Team Milram in the coming years.”
Gerdemann will be officially introduced in a team press conference Thursday in Dortmund, Germany.
Gerdemann’s departure from Team Columbia comes as the U.S.-registered team also announced Wednesday that it signed Belgian prospect Maxime Monfort.
Gerdemann’s transfer to Team Milram from Team Columbia effective Oct. 31 has been approved by the UCI and is subject to meeting final contract provisions, officials announced.
“We wish Team Manager Gerry van Gerwen, his athletes and his sponsors great success in their ambitious plans for 2009,” said Columbia’s Rolf Aldag. “We are very excited about our roster for 2009, which features promising young talent from 17 different countries. Maxime is a great addition to our strong roster and we are pleased he has chosen to join Team Columbia.”
Gerdemann is a promising all-rounder who has aspirations to become a grand tour contender. A strong time trialist who can defend in the mountains, the blond-haired German will be aiming for a top 10 in the 2009 Tour.
He joined the elite pro ranks with Team CSC in 2005 and he promptly won a stage at that year’s Tour de Suisse and finished 72nd in his grand tour debut in the 2005 Vuelta a España.
The then T-Mobile team bought Gerdemann out of his contract to bring the hyped German rider to the team in 2006, where he finished seventh in the Tour de Suisse.
Gerdemann survived the turmoil that engulfed the team following admissions of doping by former riders and the implication of team leader Jan Ullrich in the Operación Puerto doping scandal and won a stage in the 2007 Tour into Le Grand Bornand and briefly held the leader’s jersey.
This year, Gerdemann broke his hip at Tirreno-Adriatico and missed the 2008 Tour. Once recovered, he returned to racing in August and won the Tour de l’Ain in France and the Deutschland Tour.
Gerdemann is the latest big German name to be picked up by Milram, the last major German squad following the dissolution of Gerolsteiner at the end of this season and T-Mobile morphing into the U.S.-registered Team Columbia.
Milram has also signed eight former Gerolsteiner riders for 2009.