Team Milram Enters 2010 Belgian Spring Classics with Great Confidence

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02/26/2010| 0 comments
by Gerald Churchill

Team Milram Enters 2010 Belgian Spring Classics with Great Confidence

Team Milram enters opening weekend of the Belgian Spring races with confidence after what has been a good season start for the German team so far.

Team Milram enters opening weekend of the Belgian Spring races with confidence after what has been a good season start for the German team so far.

With new riders and a lot of momentum from its first 2010 races in Australia and the Arabian peninsula, the German ProTour Team Milram is facing the opening weekend of the Belgian Classics season.  A total of four newcomers, all of whom were signed for the Spring races, will be part of the team roster under the direction of Ralf Grabsch at the semi-Classics Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2010 (February 27 / UCI 1.HC) and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne 2010 (February 28 / UCI 1.1). The two Belgian Classics specialists Roy Sentjens and Wim De Vocht will join Australian Luke Roberts and Beijing Olympics silver medal winner Roger Kluge in the Spring races taking place in East Flanders.

"Our goal is a place in the top six in both races. Servais Knaven will lead us with his experience.  He was third in 2000 and knows every cobblestone passage along the way," Ralf Grabsch stated.  The former pro rider and specialist for Belgian cobblestone races, who led the Classics squad at the tours in Qatar and Oman, emphasized the new team spirit. "We are going to the start with confidence.  Except for Gerald Ciolek, all of our Classics riders are healthy and fit.  Our guys have brought in three Top Ten finishes so far.  I am convinced of the quality of our riders."

The Classics riders will be led by Dutch veteran Servais Knaven, who won Paris-Roubaix in 2001 and has ridden the race more times than any other rider.  The squad also features Knaven's fellow countryman Niki Terpstra, who finished ninth last year, as well as the two Germans Markus Eichler and Björn Schröder.  Team Milram will, however, have to do without the services of Gerald Ciolek.  The strong sprinter, who was supposed to help the team reel in top placings in the spring races, crashed in Qatar.  He is now preparing for his comeback in and around his hometown of Cologne after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Last week Niki Terpstra completed the 2010 Tour of Oman as sixth overall. Earlier the same week Team Milram's Roger Kluge finished fourth in the 2010 Tour of Qatar. Luke Roberts finished fifth in the 2010 Tour Down Under.

"We were the first ProTour team to train on the Het Nieuwsblad course as a team.  And we will be there again as early as Thursday," Ralf Grabsch commented, proud of his Milram riders' eagerness to perform well and aim for wins. "You can see that we are serious going into the opening weekend of the Spring Classics. We will bring in good results."

On Saturday morning, the traditional semi-Classic Het Nieuwsblad starts in Ghent. A total of 12 steep climbs, called "hellinge" in Belgium and seven cobblestone sections (kasseien) will challenge the riders as they take on the 204 kilometer route through Eastern Flanders before returning to Ghent for the race finish.  Last year Cervelo TestTeam's Norwegian Thor Hushovd won the prestigious race.

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