André 2004

I’ll let the picture do most of the talking. Look at the star rider of amateur team TEAG Team Köstritzer, the one given the seat in the middle and holding the bike. It’s André Greipel.

The photo is from 2004 and the 21 year old Greipel was the captain of the beer-sponsored squad and touted as its best prospect. Indeed it was his last year as an amateur before joining Team Wiesenhof. He was relegated to the end of the second row in their team photo but made a name for himself in the Tour of Denmark, scalping pros from bigger teams with a stage win.

Look carefully at the second row to spot another rider who has arguably done even better than Greipel, none other than world time trial champion Tony Martin. At the time he was national junior time trial champion.

In fact many of these riders kept progressing. Robert Wagner joined Wiesenhof with Greipel and is with Radioshack-Nissan today. Thomas Fothen and Sebastian Schwager made it to the pro ranks with the Milram team whilst Christian Müller went to CSC, Skil-Shimano, An Post and finally Amore e Vita.

In time the team changed name after the brewer dropped out to become  the Thüringer Energie Team and it’s sent the likes of John Degenkolb, Patrick Gretsch and Marcel Kittel on their way too.

13 thoughts on “André 2004”

  1. Great find, Inrng!

    “Team Wiesenhof” made me first of all think of Gerald Ciolek, the cheeky youngster who stole the German nats title from Erik Zabel in 2005, his first year as a pro. Wonder if he’ll pick himself back up again after a winless 2011.

  2. Chris +1.

    But seriously, it is great to read this type of story. I know you have done a few posts like this now: lesser-known German teams who were nurturing young talent at a time when authors in the outside world were saying that German cycling was ‘on the slide’ or ‘dying’. With the benefit of your hindsight we can see how wrong those articles were.

  3. You know,

    it actually is interesting that there are not MORE beer and coffee sponsored teams. Beer and cycling go together….and quite frankly, I think cyclists are more than most, apt to support companies that support cycling. The benefit of beer, is it is cheap enough most anyone can spend some money on that Company’s products.

  4. Cat4 – I think the reason you don’t see beer companies sponsoring anything beyond a very local squad is because beer, other than huge, multinational brands remains a locally consumed product. For all the advertising one may do, the locals will still drink their own stuff. Here in Italy where there are a few small, quality breweries, most of the beer consumed is still Moretti or Peroni, neither is particularly good. Nastro Azzuro used to sponsor Valentino Rossi on his motorbike but that was directed at his Italian fans for the most part, I doubt that beer saw much increased demand elsewhere. It’s pretty much the same with coffee (at least here in Italy) with the exception of the Colombia teams where the sponsor was the consortium of coffee bean growers rather than a retailer or roaster. In the end I think pro cycling sponsorship has more to do with the passion of the company’s owner than any real promotional value, despite what folks like JV, JB and others would prefer. In a pure business sense it’s not-so-smart, which is why in the current economic slump, sponsors are hard to come by. Of course the doping scandals are not helping either.

  5. Larry, True to a point. Many biers in Germany are only, and with risk of offense, ordered and consumed locally. There are many other German brewers (Becks, Warsteiner, Bitburger, etc, .) that do national and international marketing with great success. Would love to see more. Cheers!

  6. Larry T.

    But I was referring to the multi-nationals vs. small craft brews. But it would seem to me (as much as I deteste the stuff), a Coors Light lead-out train would look damned good.

  7. CAT4Fodder – if there were a Coors Light lead-out train I might be able to get my Okie-born, near-beer swilling best friend to watch more races with me. Maybe we’ll see more beer sponsorship in Colorado.

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