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Giro Teams: Gerolsteiner
By Staff
Date: 5/6/2005
Giro Teams: Gerolsteiner

By Coastfreak, translated by Tick.

Team Gerolsteiner drew a lot of media attention this spring - unfortunately not just for its sporting achievements but also because Danilo Hondo tested positive at the Murcia Tour. He was subsequently fired from the team. His good results this season, such as his 2nd in Milan-San Remo and 4th in Tirreno-Adriatico, have now been put to question.

That leaves the team in a tight spot at the Giro d'Italia. The American Levi Leipheimer was signed at the beginning of the season to join Georg Totschnig in looking for good placements at the Tour de France. Both finished in the top ten last year. But since they are both concentrating on the Tour, they won't be riding the Giro.

The man for the GC seems to be Sven Montgomery, whom, however, can't look back at good past results in the Grand Tours, due to injuries. He crashed during the time trial in last year's Giro and broke his shoulder blade. He was in 12th place overall at the time. The 2004 Tour didn't go any better for him. His bad luck with crashes continued, and he had to drop out of the 7th stage with a broken collarbone. With four Tour starts, he has yet to make it to Paris. His talent as a stage racer and mountain specialist has been proven at smaller races. He has finished in the top eight of the Tour de Suisse three times. In addition he won the mountain rankings at the Dauphine Libere in 2001 and the Tour de Romandie in 2004. If Montgomery is able to avoid crashing, he ought to be able to finish in the top 20.

Robert Förster will be the team's man for sprint finishes. He has ridden since 2003 for the Eifel-based sparkling water team, which lost its top sprinter when Hondo was fired. "Frösi", who used to pull sprints for Hondo, now will be trying to win them himself. He is returning to the role he filled in his pro debut with Team Nürnberger Versicherungen. In that year, 2001, the sprinter from Leipzig had six victories - a total he hasn't been able to repeat. This season he hasn't had any victories yet, but he can show good placements at the Algarve Tour and a 3rd in the Criterium International. The sprinter field is a very strong one this year, with Petacchi, Zabel, O'Grady and McEwen. Förster can expect to finish in the top ten in sprint stages.

Frank Hoj of Denmark can point to good results in hard one-day races, including two top ten finishes in the Olympic Games. However, he will be filling a helper's role in the Giro. Förster will be counting on Hoj's ability to pull sprints for him.

Because of his aggressive riding style, Thomas Ziegler can be expected to appear in various breakaway groups. In his first year with Gerolsteiner in 2004, he drew attention to himself with two second place stage finishes, one each at Paris-Nice and the Giro. The other breakaway rider in the team is Sven Krauß, from Herrenberg. He has brought in good results on the track as well as on the road. His favorite weather is rain - that might just be what gives him an advantage over some of his rivals.

The team will be looking to Markus Fothen in the time trials. Before signing with Gerolsteiner in 2004, he became noted for his many titles: national mountain champion, national under-23 time trial champion, world u-23 time trial champion, european u-23 time trial champion. In addition to the 1.1 km prologue, the Giro features two time trial, both on hilly courses. Fothen proved that he has no problem with such courses with his first professional victory in the GP Schwarzwald in 2004. He showed his abilities in a prologue with his 11th place in the Tour de Romandie. Other results this season are equally good: for example, in the Sarthe Tour he was 3d in the time trial and 2d in the final stage, leading to a second place in the final GC. These results lead the team to hope for good results from him in all three duels against the clock at the Giro.

Andrea Moletta and Volker Ordowski will be mainly working as helpers. Both are highly thought of by the team, as riders who are able to ignore thier own interests and work for the good of the captain. Moletta was hired at the wish of Davide Rebellin and is his training partner. As a fan of all things Italian, it must be a special joy for Marcel Strauss to participate in the Giro. However, his dream of a win in Italy will likely not happen in this race. He is another who will place himself in the service of the team.

With Montgomery and Förster, Gerolsteiner has two riders who can look for top 10 finishes in the GC and in sprint finishes. In addition, the team has several riders who are expected to represent it in breakaway groups and could fight there for stage wins. The team has in Fothen a rider who will give his best in the duels against the clock.

Overall, Gerolsteiner is bringing to the start a well-rounded team, which could bring in good results in almost every stage. Even without big names, it would be a mistake to under-estimate this team. Finally, it is devoutly to be hoped that Montgomery will be able to finish a Grand Tour without a crash and injuries.

Gerolsteiner for the Giro

Robert Förster
Markus Fothen
Thomas Ziegler
Volker Ordowski
Marcel Strauss
Sven Montgomery
Andrea Moletta
Sven Krauß
Frank Hoj

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