Ciolek rues missed opportunity for stage win in Santos Tour Down Under
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Ciolek rues missed opportunity for stage win in Santos Tour Down Under

by VeloNation Press at 11:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Fourth overall, but German plays down chances of being a factor on Old Willunga Hill

Gerald CiolekOmega Pharma Quick Step rider Gerald Ciolek finished second on today’s stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, with only Oscar Freire (Katusha) quicker than him into Tanunda. It was a near miss for the German, who hasn't topped the podium since taking stage three of the Bayern Rundfahrt back in May 2010.

Those past twenty months have been a long, frustrating wait for Ciolek. Looking back at how things played out, he believes his drought might have ended had he got his timing right today. He was the first of the sprinters to kick for home and went from a long way out. Freire missed out on the initial jump, but had time to come back and get past him before the line.

“For the sprint I was in a good position. I felt like I had the speed and the legs to bust a good sprint, but perhaps I took off a little too early and I got caught,” the former world under 23 champion explained after the stage. “It's too bad; this was a great chance and I wanted to give the team the joy of a victory.”

Ciolek finished ninth on stage two of the race and fifteenth yesterday. He fared better today after the bunch was thinned out by the first category climb of Menglers Hill, an obstacle which put paid to the stage win chances of Andre Greipel, as well as his overall lead.

Ciolek is a better climber than his compatriot and this enabled him to be part of the 49 man select group which made it to the finish together. He said that team-work was a factor in remaining well positioned.

“There were plenty of short climbs, one of which was placed at about 25 kilometres from the finish,” he explained. “It was clear from the start that a lot of the teams wanted to try and eliminate the sprinters on that climb. I ended up in the front positions, and I stayed really alert and was supported by Vermote and Pauwels, who did a great job.”

Making that front group and picking up the time bonus for second on the stage has moved him up to fourth in the overall standings, six seconds behind the new race leader Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team). As a rider who is powerful on uphill sprints, he has fared well on tough finishes in the past. Because of that, some might wonder if he could be a factor tomorrow. However he downplays his chances of being able to fight for the stage win, as well as taking over the ochre leader’s jersey.

“Tomorrow is a very challenging stage; it won't be easy for me to stay out front,” he conceded. “The final climb is long and hard. I'm going to try and do my best and eventually help out Serge Pauwels, who's pedalling really well and who can stay ahead on a climb with these characteristics.”

Pauwels was in the front group today and is now eighteenth overall, twelve seconds off the race lead. Director sportif Rik Van Slycke believes he could be up there on Old Willunga Hill. “Tomorrow the stage is hard but we can still do well with Pauwels, who's improving day by day,” he stated.

As for Ciolek, he has said that he is targeting Sunday’s final stage as a chance for him to move up a place and land what would be a very welcome victory. He’s now waited over a year and a half to top the podium; it’s a gap between champagne celebrations which he’s determined to end as soon as possible.

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