91rst Giro d'Italia - Milram Team
All Hail the Mighty Milram Sprinter's Train! Erik Zabel leads the fast legs of
the team in blue in search of stage wins; while 2003 world champion Igor
Astarloa seeks redemption.
Team Milram starts with Erik Zabel as the team captain after Alessandro
Petacchi decided not to start due to bronchitis. Petacchi was later suspended
until August 31 after the Italian Olympic Committee went to the Sport Tribunal
in Lausanne to appeal the decision of the Italian Cycling Federation that
cleared Ale-Jet of charges as an accidental overuse of an asthma inhaler during
the 2007 Giro D’Italia.
The team is built for the sprinter stages; but has some riders who will be
allowed to pursue opportunities in breaks and stage victories... like 2003 World
Road Champion Igor Astarloa or promising youngsters, Matej Jurco and Fabio
Evergreen Erik at the team presentation, will he add the missing stage victory
to his incredible palmares this year. Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti
Erik Zabel is one of the legends of
cycling despite his recent confession of a brief use of epo during his Telekom
period in the mid nineties. Zabel turned pro in 1992 and has impressive palmares
with 12 stage wins in the Tour de France, 8 stages in the Vuelta, 5 times the
Green jersey in the Tour, 13 stages in the Tour of Germany, 4 times
Milano-SanRemo, 3 times Paris-Tours, Amstel Gold Race, HEW Cyclassics, 3 times
Rund um den Henninger Turm, Six day races, two times German Champion and much
more as he has over 200 wins in his 17 years as a professional. Zabel announced
that 2008 will be his final year as a professional cyclist. He will start for
the 2nd time in the Giro but has never won a stage, Erik will be looking to add
a Giro win to his palmares this time around. In 2008 he's won a stage in the
Volta Comunidad a Valenciana and was twice fourth in both Gent-Wevelgem and the
Igor Astarloa with a determined look in his eye at the presentations.
Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti
rode with Cofidis, Lampre and Barloworld after Saeco who he was with in
2003 when he became world champion in Hamilton, Canada; that year Igor also won
the Fleche Wallonne. The Spainard has won stages in the Brixia Tour (04), Burgos
(05) and his last major victory at Milano-Torino in 2006. Igor signed with
Milram in 2007; but this year hasn't produced significant results; but promises
a return to form and will be hunting a victory in some of the hillier stages
which favor his talents and prove he still has fire in his legs.
The big blue train of Milram stands on the stage during the team presentation.
Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti
2008 Giro d'Italia Roster
• Erik Zabel
• Igor Astarloa
• Markus Eichler
• Sergio Ghisalberti
• Matej Jurco
• Alberto Ongarato
• Enrico Poitschke
• Fabio Sabatini
• Marco Velo
Another rider who was predicted for a great future is
Sergio Ghisalberti. He had his best year in
2006 but never reached that level since then. He finished 21st in the Giro in
2006, 4th in the Settimana Coppi & Bartali, 9th in Romandie and 10th in the
Vuelta a Burgos. 2005 wasn’t bad either with a 3rd rank in the Giro del Trentino
and 8th in Langkawi. But in 2007, and so far in 2008, he is without a victory.
Milram Sprinters Train
The remaining riders of the team are domestique's who are part of the successful
Milram sprint train for Petacchi with Zabel as final lead-out man for the
Italian in the sprint. The train will now ride for Zabel; but the question
remains who will get the role of final lead-out? Likely that role will be for
the fast veterans Alberto Ongarato and/or Marco Velo.
Alberto Ongarato is pro since 1998 and
his most important wins are a stage in the Volta ao Portugal (2004), a stage in
the Tour of Luxembourg (2005) and a stage in the Region Wallonne (2005). 2005
was his best season as a professional. Ongarato can do well in a bunch sprint or
breakaway given the opportunity.
Marco Velo has been a professional since
1995. He has a good time-trial and useful in the climbs too. Velo is a multiple
time-trial champion of Italy. In 2001 he finished 11th in the Giro. Since he
joined Fassa Bortolo in 2002 he has become important in the Petacchi train
leading to Ale Jets victories.
Another experienced guy in the team is German Enrico
Poitschke. Enrico is 38 years young and has won stages in the
Ringerike GP, the final GC in the Ringerike GP and a stage in the Peace Race in
2001. The German who turned pro in 2000 has also won the Rund um die Hainleite
in 2003. He can sprint well and is also important fixture in the Milram train.
The team will be completed by the youngsters Markus Eichler, Matej Jurco and
Markus Eichler isn’t really a youngster
at 26 year of age, but is still one of the younger guys in the team. Only Jurco
and Sabatini are younger. Eichler turned pro in 2003 with Team Comnet. In 2007
he joined Unibet.com but after the team ended it sponsorship he switched to
Milram. 2006 was his best season wins in GP de Lillers, Köln-Schuld-Frechen,
Ronde van Drenthe and several others. Eichler is a typical rider for the one-day
races and we will definitely see him in one of the many breaks during the Giro.
Matej Jurco is a Slovakian rider and is
23 years old of age. He turned pro in 2004 with De Nardi. In 2005 he rode for
Domina Vacanze and signed with Milram in 2006. He is a three time time-trial
champion of his country and is a rider who likes to go in breaks as well. Milram
may use Jurco as a rabbit on the sprinters stages to force the other teams to
chase while they save their legs for the final sprint.
Last but not least we have the youngest rider of the team, Italian
Fabio Sabatini. Sabatini is also 23 years old, and a few months
younger then Jurco. Sabatini turned pro in 2006 with Milram. Fabio is also one
fast legs and important guys in the famous Milram train. Last year he rode both
the Giro and the Vuelta.
Discuss this race and the sport with other cycling fans from around the world
on the Daily Peloton.com Forums
and Chat Room. Sponsor
the daily peloton & advertise your product or service to cyclists and cycling