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Milram, the peloton’s lone German team starting the Tour de France, will place its trust and hopes on a pair of young talented but untested riders.
Linus Gerdemann and Gerald Ciolek headline Milram’s nine-man Tour squad that includes six German riders.
“Our main goal is a stage win at the Tour de France,“ said Milram manager Gerry van Gerwen during a team presentation Tuesday. “We can do well in the mountains as well as in the sprints. Gerdemann is our man for the GC. He will have our complete support. In addition to Gerdemann, we will have enough other options. There is always a lot to win at the Tour. We are ready for it with our young and hungry team.”
Gerdemann and Ciolek, two former Columbia-Highroad protégés, take the leadership for the Milram team, the last vestige of the once-mighty German presence in the Tour.
With former sponsors T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner gone from the peloton, Milram will bring a mixed team of young and attacking riders to try to give something back to German race fans and try to convince a skeptical German media.
Gerdemann missed last year’s Tour due to injury, but hopes to pick up where he left off in 2007, when he won a stage and wore the race leader’s yellow jersey.
“Unfortunately I couldn’t take part in the Tour de France (last year) due to an injury. That just makes me doubly motivated this year,” Gerdemann said. “I have conscientiously prepared myself like never before for this Tour de France. I gladly accept the responsibility to lead the only German ProTour team at the Tour.”
Ciolek, who made his Tour debut last year with Columbia with two second-place finishes, will be on the hunt for an elusive stage victory and the green points jersey.
“I am really looking forward to my second Tour de France,” said the 2006 U23 world champion Ciolek. “I had a variable first half of the season, but things are coming together now in the end spurt of the Tour preparations. My form is good for this point in time. That makes me optimistic for my goals.”
A strong quartet will help Milram give the Tour a stronger German presence. Christian Knees, last year’s co-captain along with Erik Zabel, and the experience Tour starters Fabian Wegmann and Markus Fothen, along with newcomer Johannes Fröhlinger, will also be lining up.
The German team will be further strengthened by former U23 World Champion Peter Velits of Slovakia, veteran Peter Wrolich of Austria and Dutch youngster Niki Terpstra.
Milram for Tour de France
Gerald Ciolek (Ger)
Markus Fothen (Ger)
Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger)
Linus Gerdemann (Ger)
Christian Knees (Ger)
Niki Terpstra (Ned)
Peter Velits (Svk)
Fabian Wegmann (Ger)
Peter Wrolich (Aut)