Bernhard Kohl, the Austrian chimneysweep who rode to a surprising third place in the Tour de France this year, has signed a contract with the Silence-Lotto team of Tour runner-up Cadel Evans.
Kohl, who also won the climber’s jersey at the Tour, is currently a member of the German Gerolsteiner team, which is closing its doors at the end of the season.
The news comes a day after three of Kohl’s teammates – Fabian Wegmann, and the Fothen brothers Markus and Thomas – signed with Germany’s Milram team. Silence-Lotto’s top sprinter, Australian Robbie McEwen, has signed with the new Russian Katusha team for the 2009 season.
Kohl’s arrival at Silence-Lotto may lend a needed element in Evans’ efforts to win the Tour, the race in which he has finished second for the last two years.
Kohl said that the decision was an easy one for him, since he wants to hone his skills as a grand tour competitor.
“The entire team (Silence-Lotto) give priority to the Tour (de France), it was the decisive point,” said Kohl, adding that he would like to win the event “in the next two or three years.”
The 26-year-old Kohl said he will happily serve as the team’s number two rider behind Evans.
“I had to choose between being the captain or having a strong team,” said the Austrian, who added that working for 32-year-old Evans “is important for my personal training. I can learn a lot from him.”