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
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
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