Ciolek adds firepower to MTN Qhubeka lineup for next season
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Ciolek adds firepower to MTN Qhubeka lineup for next season

by Shane Stokes at 9:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
German sprinter aiming to return to his top form with African team

Gerald CiolekFormer world under 23 champion and past Vuelta a España stage winner Gerald Ciolek is the latest signing to a flourishing MTN-Qhubeka line-up, with the Geman joining recently-confirmed Tour of Portugal stage winner Jay Thomson and 2009 Giro TT victor Ignatas Konovalovas on the squad.

The 25 year old’s signing reflects the increased budget and ambition of the team, which is pushing for a Pro Continental licence for 2013 and Tour de France participation further down the line.

Ciolek highlighted his talent at 18 years of age when he beat the country’s best pro riders to win the national road race championships. He has twice been runner-upon stages in the Tour de France and while he has just one win to his credit this year, stage four of the Volta ao Algarve, he has gone close with top three finishes in stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Tour of California and the Tour de l’Ain.

The Omega Pharma Quick Step rider states that he wants to use the change in teams as an impetus to step up a level in terms of his personal results. “When I heard about this project I thought it was a really good idea. It’s a smaller team than what I am used to, but I will be well protected and have only heard good things about the team and management,” he said. “I hope to do well in the Spring Classics and look forward to getting back to my best.”

For MTN-Qhubeka, the signing brings both points and a boost in visibility. Team Principal Douglas Ryder recognises the importance of the agreement.

“This is our biggest signing for the team and for our European program. To have a previous U23 World Champion, German National Champion, stage winner in the Vuelta and a rider that has twice come second in stages in the Tour de France is fantastic for Team MTN-Qhubeka,” he stated, adding that Ciolek would increase the chances of race wins and also the visibility of the Qhubeka project. It had the aim of providing bicycles to children in rural areas across Africa.

The team is aiming to be the first African squad to ride the Tour de France. Ryan Gould, general manager of Brand and Communications at MTN, knows that the latest contract is an important stepping stone.

“The signing of Gerald Ciolek is a significant step forward for Team MTN Qhubeka and our aspirations of competing successfully as a Pro-Continental team in 2013,” he said. “The composition of the team is coming along nicely and we look forward welcoming all the newly signed riders to Team MTN Qhubeka as soon as the team is complete.”

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