At 26 Gerald Ciolek is hoping to reignite his career with a move to Team MTN-Qhubeka. The sprinter signed for the first African Pro Continental team after two seasons at Omega Pharma QuickStep and he is also looking to share his experience with his young teammates. Now an 8th year pro, Ciolek will be one of the most experienced riders on the African team.
The German rider burst onto the scenes in 2007 with a string of impressive performances during his debut season. The following year started in similar fashion at Highroad, but by the time the Tour de France came and went Mark Cavendish had established himself as the team’s outright sprinter.
A move to Milram followed and although Ciolek took a stage in the 2009 Vuelta a Espana he has yet to fulfil the promise shown during his early career.
Still, at the age of 26, and with a slightly less demanding race schedule, the German believes that he can not only return to winning ways but pass on his experience to Team MTN-Qhubeka younger riders.
“When I first heard about the team I didn't know much about it, but the more I found out about Team MTN-Qhubeka the more interested I became,” he said.
“On one hand there’s the possibility to perform with young motivated riders, which in turn will motivate me, and I can also pass on some of my experience.”
“The other thing that attracted me to the team was the whole project behind the team through Qhubeka and also the team’s goals, riders and the prospect to be Africa's first Pro Continental Team. This is something new to cycling, it's different.”
Asked what his ambitions were for 2013, Ciolek said: “Helping the team grow, best thing I can do in this process is winning races and therefore motivating my teammates. I’m looking forward to racing a mixture of smaller and bigger races. Not to say the smaller races are less hard but I am looking forward to the combination and to win so that I can help the team improve.”
“I just found out that at 26 I'm already over the average age of the team. Some of the riders don't have a lot of experience as they haven’t raced in Europe as much but I know all these races and can refer my experience to them.”