The German riders of Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung face their next big challenge. After the South African Professional Continental team was at the start in Frankfurt the beginning of the month, Rund um Köln (May 15 / UCI 1.1) this coming Sunday is the next German classic on the calendar.
The team will be led in the city with the world-famous Cathedral by two local riders, Gerald Ciolek and Andreas Stauff. Team captain Ciolek comes to his hometown with the win in Milan-San Remo and a fifth place in Frankfurt behind him, and wants to show his local fans his best side. „I have always wanted to win Rund um Köln. I live only 150 meters away from the finish line. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is highly motivated and we absolutely want to ride for the win,“ said the confident 26-year-old. „Andi [Stauff] and I know the course very well and have often trained together on the roads around Cologne. Our families and many friends will be along the course. That motivates us even more.“
“Rund um Köln, as my home race, is one of the most important races for me this year. I am very familiar with the course and train on it every day. Gerald and I know every climb by heart. I am highly motivated for this race,” said Andreas Stauff, who won the race in his U-17 days. “In Gerald, we have someone whose goal is to win the race. Tactically, Rund um Köln is difficult to gauge. We have the right rider on the team for every option, in order to win. I could also imagine being at the front in a lead group.”
The race also has a special meaning for team principal Doug Ryder, who earlier lived in the German city and rode for Team Cologne in 1993 and 1994. “Rund um Köln is a race I enjoyed doing in 1994 as I lived in Cologne and it was such an important race for us at that time so I can imagine how it must feel for Andreas and Gerald who are residents of Cologne. Your home race always comes with high expectations so the team will race in full support for Andreas and Gerald. The race has been run for nearly 100 years and has had incredible champions in the past in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
Gerald Ciolek and Andreas Stauff will be supported in the hometown not only by their many friends and fans, but will also have a full team behind them in Cologne. For the challenging ride through the hilly land to the banks of the Rhine in downtown Cologne, sport director Jens Zemke will also look to German Martin Reimer. The former German champion from Cottbus will wear the yellow-and-black jersey of the team along with South African champion Jay Thomson and his countrymen Jaco Venter and Johan van Zyl. The squad will also include Lithuanian Iganata Konovalovas and Jani Tewelde of Eritrea.
At the 97th running of the classic race Rund um Köln, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will face some strong rivals, with the possibility of another showdown between Ciolek and Andre Greipel. The German Tour de France stage winner from Team Lotto Belisol will ride in Cologne for the German National Team. In Frankfurt, Greipel beat Ciolek as third.
The race starts in Hückeswagen and runs over 200 challenging kilometers through the „Bergische Land“ to the finish line on the banks of the Rhine River. The highlight of the race is the famous cobblestone passage on the climb at Schloss Bensberg.
Race information: www.rundumkoeln.de
Rund um Köln (Germany) – (May 12 / UCI 1.1): Andreas Stauff (GER), Gerald Ciolek (GER), Johann van Zyl (RSA), Jay Thomason (RSA), Jani Twelede (ERI), Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU), Jaco Venter (RSA), Johann van Zyl (RSA)
Staff: Jens Zemke (Directeur Sportif), Bastian Büffel (Soigneur), Olaf Warko (Soigneur), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic), Werner Lenk (Mechanic)