Ciolek: The tactics are straightforward for Milan-Sanremo
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ciolek: The tactics are straightforward for Milan-Sanremo

by Shane Stokes at 7:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo
‘Over the Poggio you’ve got to go with the first riders; in the sprint you’ve to beat them’

Gerald CiolekDescribing himself as happy with his form, MTN Qhubeka leader Gerald Ciolek is keeping his tactics straightforward in terms of terms of how he will tackle Milan-Sanremo. While he said that the race can play out in a number of ways, he believes that the crucial action will come down to the final climb and what happens afterwards.

“There are millions of scenarios that the race can go on. I just hope I’m in a good shape on Sunday and at 100 percent,” he told VeloNation.

Ciolek pinpointed Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack Leopard) and Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) as the clear favourites, but said that he won’t tailor his race around anyone in particular. “For me there are no riders to watch; over the Poggio, you’ve got to go with the first riders and in the sprint you’ve got to beat them, so it doesn’t make a difference.”

While race-winning moves have gone prior to the Poggio on occasion, the crucial action generally tends to come down to the final ten kilometres of the race. Rather than mull over all the possibilities, Ciolek’s approach at this point in time is to make sure that he is in the best shape possible on the day, then to take the race as it comes.

It’s undoubtedly a very big race for his MTN Qhubeka team, but he won’t tie himself up in knots beforehand thinking about tactics.

Ciolek has shown strong form thus far this year, winning stage two of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, netting third and fourth on stages of Tirreno Adriatico and taking fifth in the Trofeo Laigueglia. He’s pleased with how he’s feeling heading towards Sunday’s Classic.

“My form is good at the moment,” he confirmed. “I was suffering a bit with a flu in the end of February but now I feel good. Milan Sanremo is a big race. I’m happy my team is starting so I get the chance to ride one of the nicest races of the year.”

MTN QhubekaThe team itself will be making history on Sunday for two reasons. Firstly, it will be the first African team to ride the race. Secondly, its rider Songezo Jim will become the first black cyclist from South Africa to compete in La Primavera.

“I am very excited about it,” Jim said. “I am looking forward to learning from the older guys like Ciolek and Jay Thomson and getting some coverage for the team. It’s a big step for me.

“It’s a dream come true to start a WorldTour race; to line up alongside the field on Sunday. It’s not easy to get to this level and I have a long way to go, but I just want to be a sponge and absorb and learn as much as I can.”

Team Principal Doug Ryder has seen his team get several important invites this year, including Tirreno-Adriatico. Sunday’s event will be the biggest yet, and he’s clear on its significance. “Milan-Sanremo is an iconic race; the longest cycling Classic in the world and the biggest one-day race in Italy,” he said. “For most of our team, this race will be the biggest challenge they have ever faced in cycling.

“We will make history again with Songezo Jim becoming the first black South African to ever start a WorldTour race. Songezo and the rest of the team will race to support Gerald Ciolek, and hopefully bring him to the Cipressa at 275kms without having to have done too much. Then we will see what he can do.”

Team MTN Qhubeka for Milan-Sanremo: Gerald Ciolek (Germany), Martin Reimer (Germany), Andreas Stauff (Germany), Jay Thomson (South Africa), Kristian Sbaragli (Italy), Jaco Venter (South Africa), Songezo Jim (South Africa), Sergio Pardilla (Spain)


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