Patrick Gretsch targets Tour de France prologue with new 1t4i team
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Patrick Gretsch targets Tour de France prologue with new 1t4i team

by Xylon van Eyck at 5:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Says he wasn’t surprised by his victories this year

Patrick GretschThe defunct HTC-Highroad team had a knack for signing new talent and winning races with young professionals. This year the team’s last season of existence was no different, when it enjoyed success with 24 year old Patrick Gretsch. The German surprised many to win the prologues in Ster ZLM Toer and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He was also part of the team who won the team time trial at the Giro d’Italia.

Much like compatriot Tony Martin, Gretsch sees himself as a time trial specialist. Last year he came close to picking up his first win in the professional ranks when he finished second to Martin in the German national time trial championships. He also had to play second fiddle in the Tour of Austria time trial when he was runner up to Joost Posthuma.

Asked if he did anything different in his training to convert results like that to victories this year, he suggested this wasn’t the key factor. “Not really, I just remained true to myself,” he told VeloNation. “I did almost the same training as last year but I think the key of my success was my first Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia.

“I felt really good there and did a perfect job for the team but to my own surprise got better and better each day. Sadly I punctured in the last TT and missed a place on the podium that day. In my opinion, when you come to the professional ranks, you need the time to adapt and develop your strength.”

Doing well in time trials isn’t unfamiliar to the German as he was world junior champion in the discipline in 2004. He also finished on the podium in the under 23 category in 2008 and 2009.

Gretsch finished eighth in the Giro time trial this year, missing the podium by 32 seconds. He didn’t have to wait long for his first professional victory when two weeks after finishing the Italian race, he won the prologue in Ster ZLM Toer.

Did he have any disappointments this season? “Sure there were, but defeat only makes you stronger,” he answered. “A big goal for me this year was to do well in Tour de Romandie but I just trained too hard before the race.

“I felt tired and didn’t have the power to follow. Also the bad luck at the Giro in the TT where I punctured but that’s sport. It’s always a mix of disappointment and happiness.”

Like team-mate John Degenkolb, Gretsch will move to Dutch team Project 1t4i (formerly Skil-Shimano) next season and has set major objectives for himself.

“My biggest goal for next year is to start at the Tour de France and to get the [yellow] jersey after the prologue. And next year are also the Olympic Games, so I have ambitions also to get one of the two places in the TT. I think I’ll have more liberty to go for my own results next year, I want to take those chances but I am also an important rider for our sprinter’s John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel. We all rode together in a under 23 team [Thüringer Energie] and I am pretty confident we’ll be successful and have a lot of fun.”

Project 1t4i has applied for a WorldTour licence next year and should it be successful, it will have automatic entry to races like the Tour de France. One thing is for sure: if Gretsch win prologues next season, it certainly won’t be a surprise anymore.


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