Gretsch psyched to defend race lead in Ster ZLM Toer
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gretsch psyched to defend race lead in Ster ZLM Toer

by Shane Stokes at 8:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
First pro win confirms talent of former world under 23 TT silver medallist

patrick gretsch

Starting off today’s second stage of the Ster ZLM Toer as the prologue winner and race leader, German rider Patrick Gretsch has had a considerable boost to his confidence, and wants to defend his position at the top of the general classification as long as possible.

“I'm super happy that I finally won my first race as a professional,” he told VeloNation after yesterday’s success. “I knew that I’m in a good shape since the Giro; I also think that the Giro was in some ways the key to win today. I think I did already there pretty well there and worked well for Cav.

“With this victory I'am also confident for the next races like Tour of Austria and German Championship where I will qualify for the World Championships. We have a strong team here and I will keep the jersey as long as possible. I look forward to us perhaps winning another stage with one of the sprinters.”

Although it took until yesterday for him to land his first pro win, the HTC Highroad rider has already shown strong form this year. In fact, he could have beaten Alberto Contador in the final time trial of the Giro d’Italia had he enjoyed better luck that day.

Gretsch ended the Grand Tour in very good condition, responding well to his first three week event. He finished one minute eight seconds behind stage winner David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) in the final race against the clock in Milan. His time put him just 32 seconds behind Contador’s third place in the 32.8 kilometre test.

However that time difference includes an enforced stop. “In the last TT there I had bad luck, because I punctured three kilometres after the start and had to change my back wheel,” he said. Given the deceleration, wheel switch, the need to accelerate once more and the disruption to his rhythm, it’s reasonable to suggest that he could have been faster than the Giro winner. “Without that, I think I could also be at the podium there,” he said.

Gretsch is one of the new breed of strong young German riders coming through. His compatriot John Degenkolb has clocked up six wins this year for the team, including two in the recent Critérium du Dauphiné, and looks set for a big future.

So too Gretsch; he’s previously taken silver and bronze in the world under 23 time trial championships. If the second year pro continues to improve, he could well challenge for major time trial honours and stage race titles in the years ahead.

The Ster ZLM Toer continues today with a 177 kilometre stage from Eindhoven to Sittard/Geleen. The 24 year old is three seconds clear of prologue runner-up and HTC Highroad team-mate Alex Rasmussen. Sky Procycling’s Alex Dowsett is a further three seconds back.

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