Ciolek ready to seize leadership role with MTN Qhubeka
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Ciolek ready to seize leadership role with MTN Qhubeka

by Shane Stokes at 10:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
German rider wants to get back to his best, early spring races are first goals

Gerald CiolekFormer world under 23 champion Gerald Ciolek had a somewhat quiet year in 2012 but, handed a leader’s role with the MTN Qhubeka squad and knowing that his results will play an important part in helping the team towards its eventual goal of a WorldTour lience, he is determined to show well in the season ahead.

“I want to be good in the German races as they are important to me as well as the team,” he told VeloNation two days after Christmas. “But I want to be good all year and to perform in all of the races we start in.”

Ciolek met up with his new team-mates at the recent training camp in South Africa, and enjoyed both the summer conditions in Johannesburg plus the buzz around the up and coming squad.

There’s a lot of determination to progress in the sport and the riders have a sense of shared purpose heading into 2013.

“So far I've a really good felling with the new team. The staff and management is really active and focused on bringing the riders a step forward,” he said. “I'm clearly playing an important role in the team, going for good results and bringing along some experience.”

Now 26 years of age Ciolek had, in terms of points, his most successful season back in 2007 with the T-Mobile team. He won the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, was second in the Munsterland Giro, took two stages in the Österreich-Rundfahrt - Wiesbauer Tour and three in the Deutschland Tour.

In the seasons since then he picked up second on stages of the Tour de France and won a stage of the 2009 Vuelta a España.

However it’s clear that his palmares have not gained pace as might be expected with age, and he’ll hope that a fresh start and a greater personal freedom within his new team will help him recover his momentum.

Ciolek is satisfied with how he is building thus far, but accepts that he was likely further ahead twelve months ago. A new racing programme and different priorities are the reason, with the German seeking to hit strong form a little later.

“Last year I had to be ready for the Tour Down Under, starting in the beginning of January,” he explained. “This year I've almost a month and a half more time to the first race so I'm probably not on the same level yet.”

Instead of the Australian event, his first target will be the spring races, including the semi-Classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The team has received a wildcard place for that event and Ciolek will try to be in good shape for that.

“It's a great race and is always the start of the important spring races, so it's great to got an invitation for it,” he said. “We've a strong and highly motivated team, it's our first big goal of the 2013 season and we want to get an early result to advertise our team for the other spring races.”

MTN Qhubeka is seeking places in Milan-Sanremo and Tirreno-Adriatico, which are two races Ciolek believes he can show well.

For the German, 2013 is the chance for a new beginning; he won't have a Tom Boonen or a Mark Cavendish to ride for, and providing he is fully fit, he could again deliver on the talent that once saw him become German professional champion at a mere 18 years of age.


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