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Germany goes to Canada
 
By Anita van Crey
Date: 10/7/2003
Germany goes to Canada
 
-written by Thomas of cycling4fans.de -

The German national team for the world championships in Hamilton is built up around the "always in good shape" Erik, nicknamed "Ete", Zabel. Athough the course this year is not considered to be a good one for sprinters, it is not surprising that the german hopes for the first World Champion in 37 years rest on Zabel. He has shown over the years that he does well on hilly courses, perhaps even as best among the sprinters. Some examples of his strength in difficult races: his 4 wins in the "Primavera", the overall victory in the World Cup 2000, and his 5th place in the world championships in Lisbon 2001 on a course which was considered as the most difficult in a long time.

Now, the riders in detail:

Erik Zabel:
As already mentioned, this Telekom rider is the leader of the German squad. At the moment he is in great shape, He won Paris Tours and had two stage victories in the Vuelta, one of them even against the mighty Petacchi, as also in Paris Tours. Of course he does well on the ascents, but he has to hope for a group consisting of, let us say, at least 20 riders, because he won`t make the cut for a group created in an ascent by the best classics guys, such as Bettini or Boogerd. If it all comes down for a bunch sprint, he`s certainly a hot favorite for the rainbow jersey.

Matthias Kessler:
The young, 24 years old blonde from Telekom is probably the greatest German prospect for difficult one-day races. Remember this year's Amstel Gold, when he and Boogerd were the only ones who could react immediately to Armstrongs attack, and his pivotal role in helping Vinokourov to gain this beautiful victory. Also in April he won his first race as a pro, the GP Miguel Indurain, in a sprint of a larger group. Then he headed for the first time to the Tour, but he was not able to show his talent there. Now, in the late season, he has found his way back to great shape. On the Day of German Reunification he won the LUK Cup in Bühl and managed to beat Rebellin in a sprint, which is not too bad. Kessler is the only rider in the German squad who might be able to hold on with the best in the ascents. In light of this, he might possibly be the joker in the race.

Fabian Wegmann:
He is a young, promising rider, only 23 years old, part of the Gerolsteiner squad, and has already quite a few nice results in his palmares. Especially in September he was in great shape and finished 3rd in the high-ranked GP Fourmies, was 2nd in the Tour of Rheinland-Pfalz and was 7th in the Coppa Placci. Like Kessler, he is capable of becoming a strong classics rider. Fabian has already has a good nose for being part of the decisive move in the race, which you can`t normally expect from such a young guy.

Patrick Sinkewitz:
He is with only 22 years the youngest on a young German squad. He rides for Quickstep and has already become a very important supporter in the difficult one-day classics. Even as a helper he placed 15th in LBL and was very strong in the Championship of Zurich. He has shown his strength in stage races as well, as good results in the Tour of Germany and Tour de Suisse illustrate. He has a great future for stage races and hilly one-day races, but in the upcoming World Championships his role will be to support Zabel as long as possible.

Christian Werner:
This Telekom rider is young, too, 24 years old, and finished the Vuelta as the best German in a solid 27th place. For his first Grand Tour, this is a really a good result. His season didn`t start well, as he had problems with illnesses and injuries all spring. He has his talents in the mountains and so his task in the Worlds should be to join escape groups so that the Germans won't have to chase them.

Torsten Hiekmann:
The next very young German, only 23 years old, is said to be a huge prospect for stage races and time trials. His most remarkable results are his title in the juniors' world time trial championship in 1997 in San Sebastian and his victory in the very tough GP Schwarzwald in August. In the Vuelta he had high ambitions which he was unable to attain due to stomach problems. He certainly will support his Telekom colleague and leader, whose name is Zabel.

Stephan Schreck:
He is 25 years old and also a member of Telekom. He wasn`t in the spotlight too often this year, since he had surgery and started his season late in April. Telling you that he prefers races like Paris Roubaix could explain why you didn`t hear much of him up to now. He is also a good rolleur and he will have to do the usual support tasks in the Worlds.

Andreas Klier:
He is one of those riders who really loves to ride on cobblestones. He impressed in Gent Wevelgem, when he beat the very strong Quickstep squad which had 5 riders in the decisive move. By beating all of them, he also became the first German to win this semi-classic. Normally you don t see him near the top of the results lists, since he has to work for riders like Telekom teammates Wesemann or Zabel, so don`t wonder at the Worlds when you look at the results after the race.

Rolf Aldag:
I don`t think anyone doesn`t know who he is. He is the role model for those riders who ride at the front all the day, sacrificing themselves for their leaders. I`m sure all of you remember the Tour stage to Morzine, when Rolf escaped with Virenque. The latter won the stage, but Rolf was stronger than anybody expected and even at one time attacked Virenque on a climb. For all his enormous efforts, he wore the King of the Mountains jersey, as second in this classification to Virenque, in the stage up to L`Alpe d`Huez. His words: I`ll wear a rain jacket, even at 40 degrees Celsius. Me in the King of Mountains Jersey, that s a scandal." On Sunday he`ll do his usual program, riding at the front of the peloton, keeping Zabel out of the wind and otherwise helping his teaammates.

Bert Grabsch:
This cyclist from the Swiss Phonak Team has recently shown his good time trial skills in the Vuelta, finishing 4th and 8th in the two long, flat time trials. He should be in good shape and should be able to provide good support in the flat.

Ronny Scholz:
He is 25 years old and rides for Gerolsteiner. As the economic situation in cycling becomes more and more difficult, he has chosen a traditional method of hopefully assuring himself long-term employment: he married the daughter of team director Hans Michael Holczer. He is strong in shorter stage races, as he is quite good in time trials but can climb, too. For him, it`s surely a honour to be a part of the national team.

Sebastian Lang:
Last but not least, another young German cyclist,from Team Gerolsteiner. Sebastian is 24 years old, but already he has great time trial skills. Two years ago in Lisboa, he won the silver medal in the U23 TT World Championships. This year in August he won the Tour of Denmark, his first stage race as a pro. He can be very useful to make a high tempo in the flat.

Time Trial:

Michael Rich:
This 34 year-old veteran and family father has already shined beautifully in Worlds time trials. In both 2000 and 2002 he finished second, missing gold by only a few seconds. He had a great season in 2003, as he won the German TT Championships in a Gerolsteiner clean sweep, with Peschel and Lang finishing 2nd and 3rd. With his teammate Peschel he also won the GP Eddy Merckx, and solo he won the GP des Nations just a few weeks ago. You can very well expect him in great shape and of course he is a strong candidate for a medal.

Uwe Peschel:
He is at the same age as his teammate Rich and had a lot of great TT`s in the past too. In 1995 he won bronze at the Worlds, when a guy called Indurain got the jersey and another guy called Olano was the runner-up. In 2003 he had enormous bad luck as he crashed in the TT in the Tour, just one day before he would have reached Paris. One of his lung wings was badly hurt, but it hadn`t prevent him from finishing this stage. Just about one month later, he won the GP Eddy Merckx with his teammate Rich. In the GP des Nations he finished at an outstanding 4th place. If you make your bet over the race, look at him!


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