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Gerolsteiner Goes Giro d'Italia
By Staff
Date: 5/5/2004
Gerolsteiner Goes Giro d'Italia

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By Stephan (Karteikarte), translated by Tick

In 2002 Gerolsteiner started the Giro d'Italia for the first time -- actually, its first Grand Tour ever. The Austrian Georg Totschnig finished in an outstanding 7th place in this premiere. He improved himself the next year. After three weeks of touring Italy from Lecce in the south to the mountains in the north, he ended up fifth overall. There will be no such improvement this year: Georg Totschnig is concentrating on the Tour de France and won't appear in the Giro.

His place is to be taken by Sven Montgomery. The Swiss-American is in his first season with Team Gerolsteiner and has said that a top ten placement in the Giro is his main goal this season. Team boss Hans Holczer might be skeptical of the chances, but is willing to let himself be pleasantly surprised. Montgomery's successes in a Gerolsteiner trikot have been a pretty mixed bag. Health problems set him back in the early part of the year, for example, causing him not to start the fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. He finished 20th in the Criterium International.

Montgomery rode the Tour de Romandie last week as his final Giro preparation. He used the next-to-last stage to test his obviously improving form -- he was the initiator of and major actor in a breakaway group, and secured the King of the Mountains trikot for himself. He finished 30th overall in the tour, more than 20 minutes behind winner Tyler Hamilton.

It will be interesting to see how youngster Fabian Wegmann does in the Giro. Before the season, Wegmann announced that his personal goals were to finish well in a World Cup race and to take part -- hopefully successfully -- in one of the Grand Tours. The World Cup didn't work out, but as a rider who helped contribute to Davide Rebellin's successes, he can be very satisfied with his spring. The Giro will be his first three-week tour. Given the right racing situation, the cocky young Wegmann might well be able to eke out a stage win.

Thomas Ziegler changed this year from GS-II Team Wiesenhof to Team Gerolsteiner. His first pro season last year was marked by health problems and bad luck. At Gerolsteiner he hopes to develop further as a pro and has already made himself known in the peloton. He showed his stuff in the second stage of Paris-Nice, where he finished a close second behind Leon van Bon afer a more-than-100 km breakaway. In the Giro his main assignment will surely be to help Rebellin and Montgomery, but perhaps he will have a chance to ride for himself sometime during the three weeks, and build on his success from P-N.

Robert Förster and Olaf Pollack will be responsible for the sprints. Olaf Pollack, who was disillusioned by the Tour de France last year, hopes to prove himself as a sprinter in the Giro. It will be interesting to see how he and Förster will work together. Team Gerolsteiner hopes that the experienced Pollack and the young Förster will be able to take advantage of the expected Cipollini-Petacchi duel and take a few sprint victories.

Cycling-crazy Italy will no doubt concentrate on Davide Rebellin, the small and quiet Italian who comes to the Giro as the big winner of the spring season. His historical triple, with wins at Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, has made him the focus of Italian interest, and not hurt his popularity, either. His main focus will be in the early stages of the Giro, where he hopes to win a few stages, take the Maglia Rosa and defend it as long as possible. It is not expected that he will ride the Giro to the end. Hans Holczer says an early out is possible, but it depends on Rebellin's form and placement.

Rebellin can count on suppport during the Giro from landsman Gianni Faresin. In his 17th year as a pro, he will again be an all-sacrificing helper for his captain. In addition, his immense experience, particularly in the Giro, will make him a team leader, espeically for the younger riders on the team. He is fairly unknown in Germany, but the Tifosi love him and celebrate their "Italian Udo Bölts" as a Cycling God.

The Italian Marco Serpellini was hired to help with the Spring Classics, but with his years of experience will also be an important team member for the Giro.

The Giro is an important stepping stone for the 27-year-old Swiss Marcel Strauss. His results from last spring and summer weren't very good, but his increasingly good form in the fall showed his potential. He hopes to build on this performance in the Giro and will be another team helper.

Team Gerolsteiner won't be involved in the fight to win the Giro, but hopes to make iteself noticed. The team's strength will be its open strategy, upon which everything will not be placed on one rider, but which gives every rider a chance to take advantage of race situations. As the only German team in the Giro, Gerolsteiner also hopes to draw a lot of attention from the German media.

Team Gerolsteiner for the Giro d'Italia 2004

Gianni Faresin (July 16, 1965)
Robert Förster (Jan. 27, 1978)
Sven Montgomery (May 10, 1976)
Olaf Pollack (Sept. 20, 1973)
Davide Rebellin (Aug. 9, 1971)
Marco Serpellini (Aug. 14, 1972)
Marcel Strauss (Aug. 15, 1976)
Fabian Wegmann (June 20, 1980)
Thomas Ziegler (Nov. 24, 1980)

Gerolsteiner legs...Photo by

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