By Stephan Tauchmann, translation by
A few weeks ago in Saarbrucken.
The last stage of this year's Tour of Germany. Olaf Pollack outsprints such
riders as Erik Zabel and Stuart O'Grady to win the stage. A major boost of
self-confidence before taking on the adventure of the Tour de France.
The team is taking part in the Tour this year for the very
first time, and team manager and sporting director Hans M. Holczer is not
counting on a stage win or a high finish in the standings. "At the Tour
everything is different," is what the experienced Christian Henn and Udo Bölts
have said repeatedly over the last few weeks, when asked about team tactics for
the three weeks in France. They are approaching the challenge cautiously but
The team's goals will be set before it leaves for Paris.
Holczer says, "As Team Gerolsteiner, we want to be right there where the action
is taking place. Even if that means being overtaken by the peloton only 800
meters before the finish line."
Tour de France team:
Udo Bölts, Germany
Udo Bölts will tackle his 12th Tour de France this year, making him the all-time
record holder in Germany. It is typical of him that he has not only started the
Tour 11 times but has also finished it every time. He will play an important
role for the team in France -- everyone on Team Gerolsteiner will benefit from
his experience. "For me, he is the embodiment of the uncompromising 'team
player,' combined with an overwhelming team spirit and an unbelievable strong
will," is how team manager Holczer describes him.
Rene Haselbacher, Austria
Rene Haselbacher had the chance to show his stuff in the last stage of this
year's Tour of Germany. He rode an almost perfect sprint preparation, setting
Olaf Pollack up for the win. Pulling sprints for Pollack won't be his only
assignment, though, as he is also expected to be in breakaway groups, and his
sense of humor is expected to help keep the team in a good mood.
Olaf Pollack, Germany
Olaf Pollack is Team Gerolsteiner's sprinter. He is expected to repeat his
outstanding performance from the Tour of Germany in the Tour, his first
three-week Tour. He is also an excellent time trialist and team pursuit rider,
making him one of the "heavy hitters" in the Tour's team time trial.
Uwe Peschel, Germany
2002 was a special year for time trial specialist Uwe Peschel. He won the most
important and traditional race "against the clock" -- the GP of Nations -- for
the second time. At the Tour, his major emphasis will be on the two long time
trials, as well as the team time trial in the first week.
Davide Rebellin, Italy
Team Gerolsteiner gave Davide Rebellin every freedom in his preparations for the
Tour. This world class rider, who joined the team last year, has given a real
boost to the whole team. This year he has already won a stage at Paris-Nice, as
well as winning Henninger Turm in Frankfurt. He will be looking for his chances
in various stages, without losing sight of the general classification. By his
first start in 1997, he finished out of the top 20, which doesn't sit well with
a one-hundred percent professional like him!
Michael Rich, Germany
The current vice-World Champion in time trial expects his worst hours to come in
the Alps and the Pyrenees. On the other hand, he expects
to shine in the two time trials and the team time trial. Gerolsteiner expects
very much from him the latter discipline -- together with Uwe Peschel he should
control the team and its pace. He will also serve as a helper for Olaf Pollack
in the sprint finishes.
Torsten Schmidt, Germany
Torsten Schmidt rode his first Tour de France in 1997. Jan Ullrich won that
race as the first German ever, while Schmidt found himself much closer to the
bottom of the classification. But as a team helper, that is not a problem for
him. In this year's tour he will place himself again at the service of his
team, while hoping to get a chance to join a breakaway group. As a good time
trialer, he should also play an important role in the team time trial.
Georg Totschnig, Austria
Georg Totschnig is the man for the mountains. His highlight so far this season
was his fifth place overall finish in the Giro d'Italia. It remains to be seen
how he will be able to hold up under the burden of riding both the Giro and the
Tour. Baed on his outstanding climbing skills and good time trial qualities,
the team believes that a top ten placement for him is possible.
Markus Zberg, Switzerland
Markus Zberg had many successful years in which he had good results in important
Classics and a sixth-place in the World ranking in 1999, but after an
unsatisfactory 2002 season he decided on a change of scenery. He will have two
assignments in the upcoming Tour: first, to use his strengths in escape groups
and secondly, to be at Olaf Pollack's side during mass sprints.
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