Article by Coastfreak, translated by Tick.
The Tour's sidetrip into Germany should provide an extra motivation for
the German Team Gerolsteiner. It will provide a good opportunity for the
team to present itself, especially to those who don't follow cycling so closely.
Gerolsteiner is sending a balanced team. In contrast to the other
German team, T-Mobile, they are not going solely for the overall victory.
Two strong sprinters and several aggressive riders make wins possible in almost
every stage. The team also does not need to worry about the Team Time
Trial, because with so many strong time trialists it can expect a place in the
Gerolsteiner will go after the favorites for the overall victory with a
two-pronged attack. Georg Totschnig and Levi Leipheimer both finished in
the top ten in the 2004 Tour, and their goal is to repeat these results.
Both have shown good form in the races leading up to the Tour and should do will
Levi Leipheimer transferred to Team Gerolsteiner from Rabobank the
beginning of this season. He showed his time trialing abilities especially
in the Dauphine Libere, where he placed second in both time trials, beating
Lance Armstrong both times. He was always near the front in the mountains
and finished the race in a strong third position. These results are
so good that it is to be hoped that he hasn't peaked too early.
The Austrian Georg Totschnig finished 12th this year in the Tour de
Suisse, where he drew little attention. His abilities in the mountains are
undisputed, but he had a deficit in time trialing last year. His 14th
place in the Tour de Suisse time trial showed that he is working on this aspect.
It looks like Totschnig will not have a time trial-caused time loss to make up
for in the mountains.
Beat Zberg is a complete all-arounder who has done well the last few
years mainly with stage wins. His 11th place finish in the 1997 Tour and
7th in this year's Tour de Suisse show his ability to not only finish a stage
race but to finish it well. He will be one of the most important helpers
for Totschnig and Leipheimer in the mountains, and will have to put aside any
personal GC ambitions.
Two-time world time trial champion runner-up Michael Rich's abilities in
riding against the clock cannot be denied. He brings his usual good form
to the Tour, as shown by his victory in the German national time trial last
weekend. Because of his strengths, he will be one of the most important -
if not the most important - team member in the Team Time Trial.
Another good time trialer without GC ambitions is Sebastian Lang.
He has often achieved good finishes in smaller tours and has had good results in
time trials. In addition to doing well there, he should be seen in
breakaway groups. Other candidates for breakaway groups are Fabian Wegmann,
Peter Wrolich and Ronny Scholz.
Fabian Wegmann comes over the mountains with ease, as his Mountain
Jersey from the Giro 2004 shows. He ought to be able to win a moderate
mountain stage. He might even be able to achieve a good place in the GC -
Wegmann is always good for a positive surprise.
Peter Wrolich has a lot of end speed, which he uses to his advantage
during sprint finishes. He can either sprint himself or prepare the
sprints for Förster. His fifth place Giro stage finish in a breakaway
group shows his feel for getting in the right break. This combination of
talents let him hope for a stage win.
Ronny Scholz is becoming a fixture on the team for Grand Tours, because
he can help in every terrain. In addition to his abilities in time
trialing and in the mountins, he can pull a sprint, too. He also has a
good nose for breakaway groups. With this vareity of talents, he is an
important man for almost every race situation.
As in the Giro, Team Gerolsteiner will be looking to Robert Förster when
it comes to a mass sprint. The team leadership doesn't expect wins, but
does expect top ten finishes from the number two in the recent national road
championships. This is a realistic expectation, maybe he can even surprise
the top sprinters at some point.
Gerolsteiner for the Tour de France
Robert Förster (Germany, Jan. 27, 1978)
Sebastian Lang (Germany, Sept. 15, 1979)
Levi Leipheimer (USA, Oct. 24, 1973)
Michael Rich (Germany, Sept. 23, 1969)
Ronny Scholz (Germany, April 24, 1978)
Georg Totschnig (Austria, May 25, 1971)
Fabian Wegmann (Germany, June 20, 1980)
Peter Wrolich (Austria, May 30, 1974)
Beat Zberg (Switzerland, May 10, 1971)