The team is especially eager to measure itself against the big names appearing in this year’s race. “This year’s race boasts of the best riders it has ever had!” said MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung sport director Jens Zemke.
“The Tour of Austria is one of our absolute highlights this year. We have a good line-up, and have the right riders on the team for every race situation. So we will do our best to promote our Bikes4Kids project with good results in Austria,” said Gerald Ciolek, who last weekend finished second behind Andre Griepel in the German championships. The Milan-San Remo winner can also look back to stage wins at the Three Days of West Flanders and the Tour of Bavaria this season. “The Tour is very professionally organized, there are first-class teams at the start every year and we expect an exciting race, with the teams fighting it out on the flat as well as in the mountains.”
Sport Director Jens Zemke, who knows the race through the Alpine republic from his days as a pro rider, will look to not only Ciolek and Pardilla but also to a strong team. The newly-crowned Lithuanian time trial champion Ignatas Konovalovas and former German champion Martin Reimer will wear the jersey of the African team in Austria, and the team will be further strenghtened by four South Africans: Johann Van Zyl, Martin Wesemann, Louis Meintjes and Dennis Van Niekerk.
“Unfortunately we have to do without South African champion Jay Thomson and his countryman Jaco Venter. Their visas have expired and they are now training in their homeland,” Jens Zemke explained. “But we are taking a good squad to Innsbruck. Gerald Ciolek is our man for the flat stages, and in the mountains we have Sergio Pardilla, Dennis Van Niekerk and Louis Meintjes as strong climbers. Our goal is a stage win.”
The 65th edition of the International Tour of Austria starts on Sunday June 30 in Innsbruck and runs over 1,115.2 kilometers and eight stages to the national capital, Vienna. Highlights of the race include the dreaded climlb to to the Kitzbüheler Horn (stage 2), and the famous ride of the Großglockner (stage 4), where every year the „Glockner King“ is crowned. The time trial specialists will have their day on the penultimate stage in the race against the clock along the Podersdorfer See before the race ends in a mass sprint in Vienna.
Race information: www.oesterreich-rundfahrt.at
Tour of Austria – (June 30 –July 7 / UCI 2.HC): Gerald Ciolek (GER), Martin Reimer (GER), Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU), Sergio Pardilla (ESP), Johann Van Zyl (RSA), Louis Meintjes (RSA), Martin Wesemann (RSA), Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA).
Staff: Jens Zemke (Directeur Sportif), Basti Büffel (Soigneur), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Jarrad Zuydam (Doctor), Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic), Daniele Nieri (Mechanic), Francesco Bonnini (Bus Driver).