Team Coast profile

Poised for success

German Team Coast has started its second year as a Division I team. Although the team didn't exactly set the world alight with a string of top results in 2001, they've restructured the team, signed a lot of new riders and significantly boosted the management. The following profile has been compiled by Anne Richter, webmistress of Team Coast rider Alex Zülle's fan site, and a keen follower of cycling.

By Anne Richter*


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Alex Zülle
Photo: © Anne Richter

The cycling world was surprised in September 2000 when Swiss superstar Alex Zülle, twice winner of the Vuelta Espana and former World Champion, signed a contract with the then unknown German second division Team Coast. Over the next three months, Günter Dahms (owner of Coast, a company selling clothing for young people) and his directeur sportif Wolfram Lindner, offered contracts to some well known pro's such as Fernando Escartin, Aitor Garmendia and Lars Michaelsen.

By the beginning of 2001, Team Coast started with very ambitious plans for its first season as a Division I team. The 'Coasties' began a bit slowly, but after Alex Zülle's win in a stage of Paris-Nice, podium placings in smaller races and the National Championships, they seemed to be improving and set for some good results in the latter half of 2001.

The Tour of Germany changed that however. Right at the beginning, Zülle had a bad crash and injured his back, but Lindner did not take him out of the race and his injury became worse. His results followed suit. This didn't help the team as they also had not received an invitation for the Tour de France. They needed a big win that would attract some media attention, but it did not eventuate.

It wasn't only the riders who had difficulties - the management faced problems as well. There were just two men, Lindner and his assistant directeur sportif, Jorgen Marcussen, who had to organize nearly everything. Coast had to make a lot of changes for 2002 if they wanted to be successful.


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Angel Casero
Photo: © Anne Richter

At the end of 2001, Coast profited from the fact that a big sponsor had stopped its involvement with cycling: Festina. The German team gained seven riders, all the mechanics, and two more directeurs sportifs. Later, the management was augmented by Alain Gallopin and Andreas Petermann. Petermann will be helping Lindner in training the riders, as both men are specialists in this area. Gallopin was engaged for the spring classics, where he has a lot of experience.

For PR, one of the weakest points of Coast last year, they were lucky to get Marcel Wüst, the ex-top sprinter who lost his right eye in 1999 and therefore had to stop his career. Wüst is now responsible for media, fans, image and communication between the riders and management.

The Sprinters

The sprinting core of the team is totally new. From Festina came two fast men: Steffen Radochla and André Korff; Thorsten Wilhelms signed from Team Nürnberger and Italian Fabrizio Guidi came from Mercury.

32 year old Wilhelms, the winner of the inaugural Tour of Qatar, could easily have had a more impressive palmares list by now. At the beginning of the 1990's, he started as a young amateur rider and was said to have been one of the bigger talents of German cycling. But the death of his father forced him to take over his family's small business after just two years in the sport. After six years off the bike, he discovered his love for cycling again, and got a contract with the German second division team Nürnberger. In 1999, he came back to the peloton.

In 2001, Wilhelms was kind of an 'unlucky hero' during the Tour of Germany. Even after a bad crash on the second stage, he pushed himself into continuing the race, covered with bandages, bruises and grazes all over his body. But he seems to have fully recovered since he dominated the Tour du Qatar and snatched the first victories for the yellow-clad boys from Essen.
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Steffen Radochla
Photo: © Anne Richter

The second sprinter is Steffen Radochla, a young man who is said to be the biggest German talent in sprinting. Last year, in his very first pro season, he frightened the old hands with a victory in the Etoile de Bessèges, where he beat Jaan Kirsipuu. He also managed some good top 10 places throughout the year.

Italian Fabrizio Guidi is the third team sprinter, and already has 35 victories in his palmares. He signed a contract with Coast after his team Mercury had troubles paying the bills last year. Guidi should certainly help out the team with a few wins this year.

Fast man number four is André Korff. He has recovered from a long illness and his main role is to bring Radochla and Wilhelms into the right position to win.

Bigger and smaller Tours

Team Coast wants more than just stage wins though, it wants to play an important role in the Grand Tours. Having already obtained invitations for the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta España, they hope to get into the Tour de France, even though it is not the team's main objective for the season. The chances in getting a wildcard from Monsieur Leblanc are not that bad: They are in their second year as a division I team, they have the recent winner of one of the three week events (Angel Casero), and with Zülle and Escartin they have two men that have already proven themselves in France.
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Plaza and Bertran
Photo: © Anne Richter

If Team Coast doesn't get into the Tour, the main objectives will be the Giro and Vuelta. Angel Casero is the leader for both races but, as is normal in cycling, if Zülle or Escartin are in better shape they will be the "capitain de la route".

For the smaller races they also have a group of ambitious and strong men like David Plaza, Manuel Beltran and Aitor Garmendia, who are at the same time valuable assistants for the Grand Tours.


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Daniel Becke
Photo: © Anne Richter

Among the older and more experienced riders there are also some young guns. Apart from Steffen Radochla, there are Rafael Schweda and Daniel Becke. Becke especially should be a name familiar to all those who followed the Olympics in Sydney. He was a member of the German pursuit team that pushed the World Record for 4000m under 4 minutes. Since he is naturally talented in that area, he wants to specialise in time trials and stage races. Last year, he celebrated his first victory as a road pro in a small criterium in Essen.

In 1999, Rafael Schweda was the big surprise in the HEW Cyclassics Hamburg, a World Cup race, where he sprinted into second spot. A young German boy riding for the division II Nürnberger team among the world's elite. The team management was very satisfied with him, and he developed to finish 6th in Milano-Torino in 2001, showing his potential again.

Spring Classics

Team Coast also has ambitions for the Spring Classics. With new team director Alain Gallopin, they seem to have the right man to motivate the riders for these events. Like last year, hopes are on the "Danish Connection", Lars Michaelsen and Frank Höj. Although both had some injuries, they were present in the earlier phases of these races.

These two Vikings will be joined by Aebersold, Hernandez, Schweda and Malte Urban, a former German Cyclocross Champion who seems to like the pavé of Paris-Roubaix. Certainly Lindner will try to make Alex Zülle fond of riding Liège-Bastogne-Liège again. Last year his ambitions were hampered when his flight from Zürich arrived too late in Liège for him to prepare properly, although he still showed himself in the final phases of the race.

Alex Zülle

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Alex Zülle
Photo: © Anne Richter

When talking about Alex Zülle, one has to say that this season will certainly be a decisive one. He still has an opportunity to prolong his contract with Coast for one more year and if he rides a good season.. He was engaged as the team leader, but could not meet the demands of the management and the public, although he started well with a stage victory in Paris-Nice, 4th in the Setmana Catalana and 3rd in the Vuelta a Asturias.

When Zülle injured his back in the Tour of Germany, Lindner did not take him off the race and that did not help the injury. His results worsened, the media in Switzerland were not kind, and he consequently fell into a morale slump. His poor results in the Vuelta España did not help him out of this mental crisis, especially since Jose Maria Jimenez, who is about the same age as Alex, suddenly started winning after being far away from the top of the peloton for three years.

But last season is forgotten now, and Alex is ready to show that he is still the man. The Swiss, who is the only currently active rider who has worn the leading jerseys in all of the Grand Tours, has gone back to the training methods used during his time with ONCE, arguably his most successful time.

2002 objectives

The objectives of Team Coast this season are clear: more media attention, better results and maybe upsetting the German monopoly of Team Telekom a little. Particularly for the German races they will be very motivated, since they play an important role this year due to the sponsor. That won't be that easy since there is another Division I team in Germany now fighting for attention (Gerolsteiner), but for German cycling in general, that can only be good.

Full Team Coast roster

Photo's from the team presentation

Racing Programme


3-7 Challenge Mallorca (Spa)
5 GP Ouverture (Fra)
6-10 Etoile de Bessèges (Fra)
9-13 Volta ao Algarve (Por)
17-21 Ruta del Sol (Spa)
23 Tour du Haut Var (Fra)
24 Classic Haribo (Ger)
24 Trofeo Luis Puig (Spa)
26-2 Vuelta a Valencia (Spa)


3 Het Volk (Bel)
3 GP di Lugano (Swi)
4 Kuurne-Brüssel-Kuurne (Bel)
4 GP Citta di Chiasso (Swi)
9-10 Gouldensporen Tweedagse (Ned)
10-17 Paris-Nizza (Fra)
14-20 Tirreno-Adriatico (Ita)
15-17 GP Erik Breukink (Ned)
23 Milano-San Remo (Ita)
25-29 Semana Catalana (Spa)
27 Dwaars door Vlaanderen Waregem (Bel)
30 GP Harelbeke (Bel)
30-31 Criterium International (Fra)


1 Rund um Köln (Ger)
2-4 Driedaagse Van De Panne (Bel)
6 GP Miguel Indurain (Spa)
7 Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Bel)
8-12 Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Spa)
10 Gent-Wevelgem (Bel)
14 Paris-Roubaix (Fra)
17 Fleche Wallone (Bel)
17-21 Vuelta a Aragon (Spa)
18 Veenendaal-Veenendaal (Ned)
21 Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Bel)
24 Scheldepreis Flaanderen (Bel)
24-28 Niedersachsen-Rundfahrt (Ger)
28 Amstel Gold Race (Ned)
30-5 Tour de Romandie (Swi)


1 Rund um den Henninger Turm (Ger)
5 Rund um den Flughafen Köln-Bonn (Ger)
9 GP Wallonie (Bel)
10-18 Friedensfahrt (Ger/Pol/Cze)
11-12 Clasica Internacional Alcobendas (Spa)
11-2 Giro d'Italia (Ita)
20 Rund um die Hainleite Erfurt (Ger)
22-26 Bayernrundfahrt (Ger)
30 Classic Dortmund (Ger)


3-9 Deutschland-Tour (Ger)
5-9 Bicicleta Vasca (Spa)
12-16 Postgiro Open (S)
16 GP Gippingen (Swi)
17-23 Volta Cataluna (Spa)
18-27 Tour de Suisse (Swi)
30 National Championships


6-28 Tour de France (Fra) ?
19 Henk Vos Memorial (Ned)
24-28 Sachsen Tour Internaional (Ger)
25 Prueba Villafrance de Ordizia (Spa)
27 Clasica de Sabinanigo (Spa)
31 Circiuto Getxo (Spa)


3 Karlsruher Versicherungs GP (Ger)
4 HEW Cyclassics (Ger)
7-11 Regio Tour International (Ger/Fra/Swi)
10 Clasica San Sebastian (Spa)
11 Sparkassengiro Bochum (Ger)
12-16 Vuelta Ciclista Burgos (Spa)
13-17 Dänemark-Rundfahrt (Den)
18 Meisterschaft von Zürich (Swi)
20-24 Holland-Rundfahrt (Ned)
25 Vuelta de los Puertos (Spa)
25 GP Schwarzwald (Ger)
27-31 Irland-Rundfahrt (Irl)
28 Trofeo Luis Ocana (Spa)


1 Rund um die Nürnberger Altstadt (Ger)
4-8 Internationale Hessenrundfahrt (Ger)
5-14 Tour de l'Avenir (Fra)
7-29 Vuelta a Espana (Spa)
11 GP van Steenbergen (Bel)
14 Paris-Bruxelles (Fra/Bel)
15 GP Fourmies (Fra)
18-22 Internationala Rheinland-Pfalz-Rundfahrt (Ger)
27-29 Paris-Correze (Fra)


3 LUK Cup Bühl (Ger)
9 Paris-Bourges (Fra)
5 Subida al Naranco (Spa)
6 Memorial Galera (Spa)
6 Paris-Tours (Fra)
8-13 WM (Bel)
16 Milano-Torino (Ita)
17 Giro del Piemonte (Ita)
19 Giro di Lombardia (Ita)
20 Escalada a Montjuic (Spa)

*Anne Richter is the webmistress for and

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