By Bjorn Haake
Gerald Ciolek of Milram will be racing the Classics programme this spring. He starts Saturday in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (formerly Het Volk) and also races Sunday's Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. His goal is to learn about the races.
"This year I am intentionally racing some of the Spring Classics," the 22-year-old told Cyclingnews. "I want to get experience and test myself to see if these races suit me."
Ciolek doesn't know the roads very well yet, which is an important factor. Milram's Team Manager Gerry van Gerwen told Cyclingnews that it is exactly why Servais Knaven was added to the team. "Servais can ride the course blind-folded and knows where the cobbles and the dangerous cross winds are. He is a really important rider for us."
Van Gerwen was a little more aggressive in the team's goals for the weekend than Ciolek. "I expect Gerald to contest for the victory." But the manager added that he knew how difficult things could become. "For the Belgians, this is like a World Championships. It is more difficult for a German team."
Milram will arrive with a strong team to put them in contention. Besides Knaven, there are Niki Terpstra and Martin Velits. "If there is only one rider from each team left in the end it will be difficult to control, but if you have two to four riders in the front group, you can do something."
Ciolek knows the Belgians will be motivated, but so is he. "These races you can do only 100 percent motivated, otherwise nothing will come out of it under the often wet and cold conditions." Ciolek had this in mind when he didn't go training in the really warm climates this winter. "I was on Mallorca, where it is mild, but not really warm."