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Gerolsteiner and the Tour de France
By Staff
Date: 7/4/2003
Gerolsteiner and the Tour de France

By Stephan Tauchmann, translation by Tick at cycling4fans

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 confidently.

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.

Visit the team site here.

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