Ciolek’s past team-mate Linus Gerdemann to join compatriot on MTN Qhubeka in 2014
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Ciolek’s past team-mate Linus Gerdemann to join compatriot on MTN Qhubeka in 2014

by VeloNation Press at 1:08 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former Tour de France stage winner returns to high level competition with African squad

Linus GerdemannHaving already found success with one former T-Mobile/Highroad rider in Milan Sanremo winner Gerald Ciolek, the MTN Qhubeka team has now signed another who competed with Bob Stapleton’s successful squad in the past.

Former Tour de France stage winner and yellow jersey wearer Linus Gerdemann has been signed on a two year deal, making his return to big races after a season left on the sidelines.

“I am really happy to join the team,” the 30 year old German said in announcing the move. “We have a huge opportunity to make the sport big on the African continent and you don’t have this opportunity every day. I see huge potential for African cycling and it’s an honour for me to join the team.”

Aside from competing alongside Ciolek in the past, Gerdemann states that he also drew motivation from his win in Milan-Sanremo and has close connections. Those connections may well have helped in being considered by the team.

“I’ve trained for a long time with him,” he said of Ciolek. “For me he is like a young cycling brother as we spend a lot of time together on the bike and off the bike.

“It [Milan-Sanremo] was such a great moment for me because I knew he had that potential and I was really happy to see him use it in one of the most important races on the calendar and that was very inspiring and motivating for me.”

Like Ciolek, he’s also motivated by thoughts of being a mentor to others.

“I see that as part of my job here, to make African cycling bigger,” he explains. “The racing in Europe at the moment is tougher and bigger so it’s important to have the experience to share.

“From what I’ve seen though the guys are motivated and with my experience I think I definitely want to help for African cycling to grow.”

In addition to his strong Tour de France ride in 2007, he also won past editions of the Bayern Rundfahrt and the Tour of Luxembourg. Gerdemann is regarded as a talented rider, but perhaps also one who has not lived up to his early potential.

He was left without a contract this year, not finding a new squad after being told late by RadioShack Leopard that he was not being retained, and has had time to think about what the sport means to him. He is likely to work hard to make up for lost time, both in sense of a missed 2012 season but also in achieving more.

“We are incredibly happy to have Linus join our team,” said MTN Qhubeka team principal Douglas Ryder. “With eight Grand Tours under his belt he will really strengthen our team in our Grand Tour aspirations for 2014 and 2015. We have shown that we are able to support and build talent from the African Continent as well as resurrect rider careers due to the teams high performance culture, management and sponsor support.

“Our focus of racing for the Qhubeka Project inspires our riders to do so much more on the bike and give back to the sport they love, their success makes a huge difference to so many other people. A GC rider like Linus will bring our team more opportunities as we aim to take African Cycling to the highest levels of World Cycling.”

The team is aiming to ride its first Grand Tour in 2014, with the Giro d’Italia thought to be the most likely of the three. The squad showed RCS Sport what it can do via its performances in races such as Tirreno Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo and while RCS Sport felt that it was perhaps not ready to ride the Giro in 2013, it may feel differently about next season.

If so, both Gerdemann and Ciolek will make it a priority to be in peak shape for the event.

Chief Marketing Officer for MTN SA, Brian Gouldie said that notching up another known name is important for the development of the sponsor relationship.

“MTN is excited that Linus Gerdemann will be joining Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Our Proudly SA Brand is making ground-breaking strides in Europe, through a very successful partnership with Team MTN-Qhubeka,” he said.

In addition to trying to secure a strong end of season, the team is also building towards 2014. Rider recruitment is one part of that, and VeloNation understands that it has also been negotiating with sponsors and suppliers.

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