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Tour de France 2008 - Team Milram Announces Squad
By Staff
Date: 6/25/2008
Tour de France 2008 - Team Milram Announces Squad

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.“

Christian Knees
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.

Team Milram
2008 Tour de France Squad

Erik Zabel
Christian Knees
Niki Terpstra
Peter Velits
Ralf Grabsch
Martin Müller.
Brett Lancaster
Marco Velo
Björn Schröder

Directors Sportif:
Vittorio Algeri
Assistants: Jochen Hahn and Raoul Liebregts

"The 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 qualities.

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)

Directors Sportif:
Vittorio Algeri (ITA / Torre de' Roveri)
Assistants:  Jochen Hahn (GER / Berlin), Raoul Liebregts (NED / Sint Oedenrode)

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