MTN Qhubeka goes close to stage win in team’s first WorldTour race
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Thursday, March 07, 2013

MTN Qhubeka goes close to stage win in team’s first WorldTour race

by Shane Stokes at 4:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tirreno-Adriatico
 
Ciolek follow’s up last weekend’s race win with third place on stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico

Gerald CiolekRiding the first WorldTour race in its history, and also the first by an African team, the MTN Qhubeka squad went a couple of bike lengths from a spectacular win today when Gerald Ciolek finished third on stage two of Tirreno Adriatico.

The former world under 23 champion is having a strong early season and sprinted home just behind stage winner Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) and runner-up Manuel Belletti (Ag2r La Mondiale).

He finished ahead of top sprinters such as Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma Quick Step, 5th), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol, 7th) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale, 9th).

“That was the perfect start in our first WorldTour race,” said a satisfied Ciolek afterwards. “We ride for a fantastic project to get African kids on bicycles. That is a great motivation for me and the team. I thank the whole team, which works very hard for our goal.”

His Italian team-mate Kristian Sbaragli also finished eighth, reinforcing the merits of the Pro Continental team’s result against bigger, more experienced squads.

“The guys prepared the sprint for Gerald really well,” said directeur sportif Jens Zemke. “The best are at the start here, so this is the perfect beginning for such an important race. Our team worked hard for this result and Geralds’ good results the last few races have shown us that he would be at the front.”

A two time Grand Tour stage winner, Ciolek is the most experienced of the riders on the team and has clocked up several strong results in recent weeks. Those performances included third in the Trofea Laiguegla, eleventh in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and then first on the final stage of the Driedaagse van West Vlaanderen last weekend.

Backed by former Giro stage winner Ignatas Konovalovas plus Sbaragli, Andreas Stauff, Martin Reimer, Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter and Sergio Pardilla, Ciolek should have another chance tomorrow. The race’s third stage is also expected to conclude with a bunch sprint, giving him a repeat shot at grabbing a stage.

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