Team Columbia's Gerald Ciolek romped home for an uphill sprint stage win on Wednesday in stage five of the Deutschland Tour. His win was Columbia's third win out of five stages so far and came after Ciolek successfully fended off Swiss rider Rubens Bertogliati and Italian Leonardo Bertagnolli at the summit finish on the third category Winterberg climb.
Heavy rainfall made a tough 218 kilometre stage through hilly terrain even tougher, but Ciolek stayed ahead of the pack for the fifth stage win of his career in the Tour of Germany.
"I'm a bit surprised but very pleased that my form is really coming good again so quickly after a hard summer with the Tour and the Olympic Games," Ciolek said. "I took a short rest after Beijing, training in Mallorca, and now I'm coming back into form shape for the last part of the season."
"On today's stage I opened up a big gap early on when I accelerated with 250 metres to go. It was really quite steep, but I managed to keep a good rhythm on the climb. I knew Bertogliati was trying to catch me, but the advantage I'd taken early on was enough for me to stay clear."
"I did want to change gears on the climb, but my fingers were so cold with the rain it wasn't possible. Even so, it all worked out."
"I can't say if it was one of the best wins of my career, because it was so different from the other sprints I've done. But in any case it's nice to show that I can win sprints that aren't just flat ones but also when there's a tough uphill like today. I've won similar stages in smaller races, but never in an event as big as the Tour of Germany."
Following Wednesday's stage, Ciolek's team-mates Linus Gerdemann and Thomas Lovkvist remain in first and second place on general classification for a fourth consecutive day.
Looking ahead to the Vattenfalls Cyclassic in Hamburg this weekend and the World Championships in Varese - both of which are targets for the young German - Ciolek is cautious about his chances despite his win Wednesday and his third place in the Hamburg race last year.
"Both events will be very competitive and are very tough. The good thing about the Tour of Germany this year is that there's a time trial on the last day [not Ciolek's speciality], so I'll have a bit more time to recover. We'll see."