Ciolek encouraged by strong Trofeo Laigueglia result, now aiming for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ciolek encouraged by strong Trofeo Laigueglia result, now aiming for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

by Shane Stokes at 7:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Former world under 23 champion gets things off to a fine start for MTN Qhubeka

Gerald CiolekGetting his season off in a strong way with a good fifth place in yesterday’s Trofeo Laigueglia, Gerald Ciolek has expressed satisfaction with his and his MTN Qhubeka team’s performance in the Italian race.

“I think we achieved our goals for the race. The goal was to have a rider in the first group, and that went pretty well for us,” he said today. “I think we can be very happy with the result and how the race went. All the guys did a good job and I think for the first race we can be very happy.”

Italian rider Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) triumphed, the Italian joining his team-mate Diego Ulissi, Francesco Reda (Androni Giocattoli) and Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini – Selle Italia) at the front after latter sparked off the decisive break on the Capo Mele climb.

Seven seconds later, Ciolek won a fourteen man sprint to the line to nab fifth. He was pleased with the placing, but also with how he felt. “It was the first test in our first race. It was a hard race and to be in the front at this part of the season, I am happy.

“It's not only about the result. Top five is always nice but it's also about getting your confidence up in your first race,” he continued. “I am already able in the first race to go with the first riders and that gives some confidence that training of the last months has gone well and I was doing the right thing. Now it's about staying healthy and doing the training for next week for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.”

Ciolek came to prominence when he won the German road race championships in 2005, beating Erik Zabel to the line despite being just eighteen years of age. He had his most successful season two years later with the T-Mobile team, winning the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt, netting second in the Munsterland Giro, taking two stages in the Österreich-Rundfahrt - Wiesbauer Tour plus three in the Deutschland Tour.

However while he has taken second places on stages of the Tour de France in the years since and also clocked up a stage win in the 2009 Vuelta a España, his progression hasn’t been as expected.

Moving to MTN Qhubeka is something he hopes will turn things around, though, and yesterday’s result suggests that he is on track for a very good spring.

This year he will have the dual role of being a team leader and also a mentor to many of the other riders. He’s pleased with how things have gone to date. “So far there has never been any questions about whether I made the right choice,” Ciolek said. “Like every team there are little things that need to be solved but that's normal. I would be more surprised if there wasn’t.

“So far I am really happy. The equipment is great as are the staff, and so far things are going really well.”

The team has a long-term target of becoming a WorldTour squad and riding the Tour de France. One of its goals is to get more people cycling in Africa, with sponsor Qhubeka playing a major part in this aim, and also of developing top-level riders from that continent.

Ciolek will focus his training in the days ahead on being in the best possible shape for the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, his next goal.


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