Rolf Aldag has joined the management of Bora-Hansgrohe, replacing the long-serving Enrico Poitschke as sports director. Aldag arrives at Ralph Denk’s team after spending the 2021 season at Bahrain Victorious, while Poitschke leaves after a decade in situ.
Poitschke was part of the original German-based Continental team that was founded and managed by Ralph Denk in 2010. The squad moved to Pro Continental status the very next season, and raced their first Grand Tour in 2012 at the Giro d’Italia. By 2017 the Bora-Hansgrohe squad had moved to the top tier of pro cycling and taken stage wins in each of the three Grand Tours, including the first of five Tour de France stage wins by Peter Sagan, in the colours of the German team.
Poitschke, a 52-year-old former pro rider who retired in 2008, said he was surprised by the decision for a new direction for the team with its management.
“Of course, I am disappointed and the decision came as a surprise to me. I have built up the team together with Ralph Denk over the past ten years and I believe that we have done a very good job together. However, Ralph would like to bring new impetus in the future and this decision must be accepted,” Poitschke said in a statement in a team press release.
“Nevertheless, I will keep the past years in my memories, because despite the high level of commitment that was expected, there were undoubtedly wonderful moments – our first Tour de France appearance with Leopold König, the stage victories in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta, and successes in the Tour with Peter, Lennard, Nils, Patrick and Emu. Of course, our victory at Paris-Roubaix in 2018 was outstanding. I am proud that all these successes also bear my signature.”
Sagan was part of the Bora team that transitioned from Pro Continental to WorldTour status, and the TotalEnergies squad is looking to replicate that process in the second year of Sagan’s new tenure, when the three-year licence becomes available.
Also departing the team are Pascal Ackermann, Erik Baska, Maciej Bodnar, Daniel Oss, Juraj Sagan, Rudiger Selig, Andreas Schillinger and Michael Schwarzmann. Sprinter Sam Bennett will rejoin the squad after two years at Deceuninck-QuickStep. New faces on the team for 2022 include Jai Hindley from Team DSM, Sergio Higuita from EF Education-Nippo, Aleksandr Vlasov from Astana-Premier Tech, Shane Archbold from Deceuninck-QuickStep, Ryan Mullen from Trek-Segafredo and Danny van Poppel from Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.
“This was probably the most difficult decision for me in the last 10 years, because I owe Enrico a great debt of gratitude. We worked our way up together from the third division to the WorldTour,” said Ralph Denk, team manager for Bora-Hansgrohe in the team release .
“In the last few months, however, I have become more and more aware that if we want to develop further as a team, we will likely also need a change in sportive management. It’s not that I’m not happy with the results – we’ve all done a good job together over the past few years – but cycling has changed and we have to adapt to those changes to keep up. During the long time we have been together, many routines have crept into the sportive management that are incredibly difficult to change.
“That’s why I have decided to break new ground here. We have many young riders in our ranks and we’d like to build them up strategically and systematically. To this end, we have defined clear goals over the recent weeks and redistributed tasks internally.”
Aldag will move from Bahrain Victorious, where he served one year as a sports director. Prior to that he was at the Women’s WorldTour team Canyon-SRAM. Aldag raced from 1990 to 2005 for several teams, winning the German road title in 2000. This is his fourth stint as a director with a men’s road team.
“Rolf was instrumental in the success of HTC-Highroad, he was technical director at Omega Pharma-Quickstep, he has been involved in women’s cycling and he has helped Dimension Data move up to the WorldTour, making cycling popular in Africa. I think one can see that cycling is his passion and that is something which connects us,” added Denk. “For me, Rolf is a clear asset to Bora-Hansgrohe by virtue of his extensive experience, technical know-how and commitment.”
Denk said Aldag’s role would be to take over the management of the sport side of the team and assist on the technical side, noting “Rolf has worked intensively with Specialized in the past and that is also an important factor for us.”
“Ralph has managed to bring together a very talented group of riders for 2022. Now it’s about forming a successful team with these athletes, the sportive management as well as the coaches, which will inspire cycling fans with an attacking riding style. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Enrico, because thanks to his continuous good work in the past, it’s now possible for us to tackle new goals at an absolute world class level,” said Aldag.