By Hedwig Kröner
Gerald Ciolek is the name of the new German Champion 2005. Never heard of him? Neither had the better part of the German cycling scene, that is, until yesterday, when the 18 year-old 'Nobody' outsprinted the likes of Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) and Robert Förster (Gerolsteiner), thereby becoming the youngest German Champion in history.
"The boy is incredible," said former pro cyclist and sprinter Marcel Wüst after the race. "He's much faster now than I was at his age. If Gerald continues working steadily, then we might see a new German sprint contender for the next few years."
Ciolek himself, who has a pro licence only since May 2005, was as surprised at his victory than everybody else. "I just can't believe it," he said post-race. "My first pro win, the Road Championships! I'm more than happy. I waited during the whole race for the sprint. Then there were the last 100 metres. I just gave it all and won," the neo-pro described the event.
"The sprint was rather slow," Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster told radsport-news.com. "We started to sprint with 50 km/h. That's 10 km/h slower than at the Giro, for example, a huge difference. It was like a big criterium: many guys were still very fresh in the end, whereas Zabel and myself have the Giro in our legs."