A little more about Phonak's future, from a Swiss paper
From Blick (my translation):
On Tuesday at 11 O’Clock Rihs is Throwing in the Towel
It’s doping’s fault that starting next season, there will no longer be a significant Swiss ProTour cycling team. On Tuesday Andy Rihs (63) is throwing in the towel.
It was so beautifully planned. After seven years in professional cycling the Andy Rihs’ Swiss Hearing Aid company is distancing itself from the sport. Starting next season, it will be replaced by the US financial enterprise, iShares. The team would remain in Switzerland, and would continue to be led by “Andy Rihs Cycling AG” with Rihs at the helm.
Everyone was filled with enthusiasm, when the 30 year old American Floyd Landis won the Tour de France on the 23rd of July – a farewell present for Phonak, a signing bonus for iShares and an immense gratification for Rihs. In Paris on the night of the 24th of July they celebrated with a roaring party for 300 well-chosen guests.
Eddy Merckx regrets the end of the team
In the weeks following the most recent doping scandal: the Tour champion is also a cheater. Now Rihs definitively has a belly full of Testosterone, EPO, Auto and Hetero Blood transfusions. At the end of 2004, after his icon at the time, Tyler Hamilton (USA) was busted as a doper, the entrepreneur from Stafa, Switzerland, made up his mind to continue on. But now, it’s the end.
Eddy Merckx (61) knows this too. His son Axel (34) along with 60 additional employees of “AR Cycling AG” must look for another job. The living cycling legend from Belgium updated his friends at the end of last week with regret, about the demise of the only Swiss Pro-Tour team.
Rihs wasn’t able to enjoy his vacation in France. Convulsively, spasmodically he searched for a successor to save the team and the jobs of the employees. He was also in contact with the powerful US federation president, Jim Ochowicz, once the leader of the large professional teams of 7 Up and Motorola).
Ochowicz declined – and all the other potential Rihs-successors as well. In the meantime, iShares also pulled out. Did the excitement for cycling leave the finance firm?
Phonak riders are already seeking new teams
On Tuesday at 11 O’Clock in Opfikon, Switzerland, Rihs will report the end of the team. He would have loved instead to be introducing his successor. So, now all is washed up – barring a miracle in the next 48 hours. Steve Morabito (23) and Michael Schaer (19) know this too. Both of the Swiss professionals have already ended up with the Spanish Astana team. For most of the remaining Swiss Phonak riders it will be hard to find a new employer.
Mauro Gianetti (42) himself a former pro-rider and today the general manager of the spanish Saunier Duval team: “If Andy Rihs is getting out there every day and cannot find a successor, that’s a real shame for Swiss cycling.”
Can Gianetti offer a job for one or two Swiss riders? No, because: “My team for 2007 is practically complete and the Swiss market holds no special interest for our sponsors.”
Bicycle riding in Southern France.
Because Andy Rihs knows exactly how difficult the job employment environment will be for the soon to be unemployed employees of AR Cycling AG, he doggedly sought a successor. In the most recent days, he found nothing but cancellations.
At the latest, this weekend, Rihs appears to have grasped the failure of his undertaking. Beneath the French sun, the passionate cyclist pursued his favorite hobby.
In two days, a much more difficult path will be before him: in Opfikon, Rihs must announce the exit of the only Swiss ProTour team.