Gerald Ciolek wants to record a big race win this year for Team Milram, in addition to a maiden stage victory at the Tour de France. Aware that Columbia-HTC's Mark Cavendish will once again be the man to beat in the sprints, Ciolek will enter the new season with a lead-out train strengthened by a number of new signings to the team.
Although hesitant to predict a number of wins for the season, Ciolek will nevertheless head into his sixth professional season with firm ambition. “I would very much like to win a really big race this year. And of course it is still my dream to win a stage at the Tour,” he told Cyclingnews at this week's team presentation in Dortmund, Germany.
Ciolek, whose face was still swollen after having two wisdom teeth pulled earlier in the week, added that “I can't be satisfied with 2009. I didn't live up to my own expectations.”
The 23-year-old didn't make significant changes in his season preparations, just tweaks here and there. It was enough that he could say, “I am going into 2010 with a good feeling.”
The sprinter had only two wins last season, the Trofeo Calvia in February's Mallorca Challenge, and then nothing until the second stage of the Vuelta a España.
The latter was his first Grand Tour win, and it meant a lot to him. “I had won a race in the spring and then nothing for a long time. After that long dry spell, it was a very, very good success, which brought back my self-confidence.”
There will be some changes in his sprint lead-out train this year, which may help. “There will be several new riders in the team: Roger Kluge, Luke Roberts, Roy Sentjens is there, too. I think we have significantly strengthened things in that area.”
However, Ciolek will face the same challenge as every other sprinter – beating Mark Cavendish. “If he is as dominant and strong as last year, then it will be difficult to beat him. But that is our goal and I won't say it is impossible. It will require a lot of work from the team and from me.”