Marcus Burghardt was at the end of his two-year contract in the fall of 2006, recovering from knee surgery and desperately hoping to be offered another chance in the form of a contract with the "new" T-Mobile Team under the leadership of incoming General Manager Bob Stapleton. Now, he is assured not only of a place on the team for next year but also a leadership role in the Spring Classics. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer checked in with him about the changes that 2007 brought and found that while he enjoys his personal successes, he always thinks first on the team.
At the team's presentation on Mallorca last January, Burghardt was cautiously optimistic about the coming season. The 24 year-old German needn't have been cautious because the optimism turned out to be on target: his healed knee and matured self-confidence catapulted him onto the podium at two spring races.
It started with a third-place finish behind superstar sprinters Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara in the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. He gained confidence not only from his performance in that race, but also from a compliment from Boonen, who said, "I have to admit the young German was unbelievably strong on the hills."
Only a few weeks later, he took his first professional win in "the biggest moment of my career," Gent-Wevelgem, with teammate Roger Hammond finishing second. With a kilometre to go, he attacked out of a six-man strong group and powered his way to the line first.
The win was the highlight of his season. "It was the greatest personal success in my career, and also a great team performance, which was crowned by Roger Hammond's second place."
Where did this success come from? What did he change, to make it happen? "I was good in the spring in previous years, too," he noted. "This year everything just came together: my preparations went perfectly, I had my freedom in the races, our tactics worked out well, and naturally at the deciding moment I had the legs and the mental strength."
The second highlight of the year for him was his first Tour de France. "I have never experienced anything like that. There were masses of people on the mountains, who enthusiastically cheered on even those who were the last – a group I always belonged to on the hard mountain stages. I will surely never forget that."
If those were his highlights, then the season's low point was equally obvious to him. "The doping cases." T-Mobile got hit twice by doping cases this season, with Patrik Sinkewitz's positive for testosterone which was made public during the Tour de France and Lorenzo Bernucci testing positive for an appetite suppressant during the Deutschland Tour.
To read the full interview with Marcus Burghardt, click here.