Linus Gerdemann will be team captain in only his second Tour de France, but the Team Milram rider isn't afraid of the pressure. "There is a certain responsibility, which spurs me on, but I think I am up to it, and I believe that the team has the right mood," he told Cyclingnews. "It is not a burden to start as team captain."
Speaking at the team's Tour de France squad presentation Wednesday in Dortmund, Germany, Gerdemann, 26, refused to set an absolute goal for himself in the race. "I will just take it day by day and stay focused."
Two years ago, he won a stage in the Tour and wore the leader's yellow jersey for one day. "Whether the yellow jersey is really possible for me this year, I don't know. The media plays it up and it would be important for the sponsors, but for me it is more important to see a further development and to go to the Tour start at 100%."
The German has had mixed results this year, with his only victory being the overall win in the Bayern Rundfahrt, without any stage wins. He followed that up with a poor Tour de Suisse, where he had problems on the climbs.
"I wasn't satisfied with the Tour de Suisse," Gerdemann said. He saw a positive side to it, though. His successful Bayern was followed two weeks later by an unsuccessful Suisse, and he now thinks things will swing back again two weeks after that for the Tour de France.
"In two weeks a lot of things can change. In the two weeks between Bayern and Suisse, my form went downhill, partly because of a cold. So I am confident that things will improve again in the next two weeks and I am confident going into the Tour."
Instead of additional mountain training, he will continue his normal training. "The absolute hard training program is finished. I did a whole lot and it wouldn't be a good idea to try to add more to it now, I think it is more important to give myself some rest and let my body rejuvenate from the athletic demands upon it from the last few weeks."
Who does he think will win the Tour? "There are many possibilities. Menchov is a top candidate, and Armstrong must also be considered. There are many who have the potential to win," Gerdemann said, "but for me the absolute top favourite is Alberto Contador.
"I think it will be a very exciting race, and that the overall winner won't be decided until Mont Ventoux."