Tour de France 2008 - Team Milram Announces Squad
Co-Captains Erik Zabel and Christian Knees will lead the blue machine of tour
directeur sportif Vittorio Algeri
Erik Zabel and Christian Knees will be Team MILRAM's two captains at the Tour
de France, which begins July 5. With the new structure of two captains, the
German ProTour team for the first time has the chance for stage wins in not only
the flat stages but also in the more challenging parts of the course. Milram
presented its nine- man squad for the tour at its new team base at the
Dortmunder Club Olympia.
Erik Zabel Going for Green
"We are taking a new approach to the Tour de France this year. On the one hand
we want to support Erik Zabel in his fight for the green jersey,“ said Gerry van
Gerwen, Milram team manager at the the official Tour de France presentation on
Wednesday. "On the other hand, we want to attack on the stages between the
mountains with our healthy mixture of experience pros and young talents. Our
main goal is a stage win.“
To reach this goal, Team Milram is sending a homogeneous squad to the start.
Christian Knees will take on for the first time, the role of captain at a Grand
Tour, a role which he shares with Erik Zabel. The 27 year old has already ridden
the Tour twice and in the last two months has developed athletically into a GC
rider, as well as becoming a true leader on the team. Most recently Christian
Knees convincingly won the overall title at the Bayern Rundfahrt and was overall
ninth in the Tour de Suisse.
2008 Tour de France Squad
Assistants: Jochen Hahn and Raoul Liebregts
new role in the team is a special honor for me. I thank the team for the trust
that it has shown in me, and want to pay this back with a good performance,“
said Christian Knees. "That my form is good,
I have shown at the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Tour de Suisse. The basis for the
success is the complete team performance. We will only be able to accomplish our
goals in France if we work together as a team.“
Erik Zabel will ride his 14th Tour de France this year as captain of the
Milram squad. That makes the sprinter from Unna the German record holder in the
biggest cycling event in the world. The 37 year old rider's main goal this year
is, as ever, the green jersey for the sprinter with the most points, which he
has already won five times.
"The new structure is very important for our team. The entire responsibility
no longer lays all on my shoulders,“ Zabel said
about the new assignment of roles. "It is good that the other riders around
Christian Knees will have their freedom. That give us a lot of tactical
possibilities. Especially the young riders will be able to show what they can do
and try to ride into the spotlight.“
For the 24 year old Niki Terpstra, who
did well in the Spring Classics, and U-23 World Champion Peter Velits, it will
be the first time in the Tour de France. Niki Terpstra
most recently won the best young rider jersey at the Bayern
Rundfahrt, as well as finishing third overall. Peter Velits has shone in his
first ProTour season with his aggressive escapes as well as his climbing
Veterans Grabsch & Muller
The team will be strengthened by German veterans Ralf Grabsch and Martin Müller.
For the 35 year old all rounder Ralf Grabsch, it will be the third Tour de
France. The rider from Cologne already did well in the Spring Classics in 2008.
With his spectacular solo escape in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix still in mind, the
Classics specialist drew attention with his good performances again this year.
Martin Müller will be starting the "Grand Boucle" for the very first
time. But the 34 year old has already shown at the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta
a Espana 2007 that he can be an important part of the team in Grand Tours.
Brett Lancaster will look to do well in
the time trials for the team: The 28 year old showed his good form with his
seventh place in the Dauphine Libere prologue. In addition, Team Milram will
also look to him to help prepare sprints.
That Erik Zabel is in a good position in the sprint is the assignment not
only of Brett Lancaster, but also especially of Italian Marco Velo. The 34 year
old is the strongest at setting up sprints on Milram right now, and will escort
Zabel as far forward as possible on the sprint stages.
Björn Schröder is highly motivated for
his second Tour de France appearance and will try to outdo what he did there two
years ago, when he was caught by the peloton only two kilometers before the
finish line after a long escape.
Team MILRAM's Tour de France squad:
Ralf Grabsch (35 / GER / Hürth), Christian Knees (27 /GER / Euskirchen), Brett
Lancaster (28 / AUS / Monsummano Terme, ITA), Martin Müller (34 / GER / Berlin),
Björn Schroeder (27 / GER / Berlin), Niki Terpstra (23 / NED / Haarlem), Peter
Velits (23 / SVK / Puchov), Marco Velo (34 / ITA / Brescia), Erik Zabel (37 /
GER / Unna)
Vittorio Algeri (ITA / Torre de' Roveri)
Assistants: Jochen Hahn (GER / Berlin), Raoul Liebregts (NED / Sint
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