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Last year's second-placed, Andreas Klier (T-Mobile)
Andreas Klier will lead the T-Mobile roster of classics specialists at Sunday's Tour of Flanders....
Andreas Klier will lead the T-Mobile roster of classics specialists at Sunday's Tour of Flanders. Klier, who lives and trains in Flanders, was the runner-up to Tom Boonen at last year's 'Ronde' and the 30-year-old is fit and looking forward to start again. "I am all fired up for Flanders," said the Klier, who can count on very special support in his bid for victory in Meerbeke, as former Tour of Flanders winner Steffen Wesemann will ride for him according to T-Mobile management. Wesemann certainly has the race knowledge to give Klier a hand over the 17 punchy climbs and countless cobbled passages.
The magenta outfit is likely to be one of the driving teams in the race on Sunday, as last year T-Mobile placed three riders in the top ten: Klier was second, Erik Zabel fourth and Russian champion Sergey Ivanov ninth. Zabel has moved on to Milram, but sporting director Valerio Piva remained convinced that "our team has shown that we have what it takes to win this cycling monument."
Piva further believes that Ivanov and Lorenzo Bernucci can be Klier's key men in the race's crucial final stages. Bernucci returns to racing after the flu forced the Italian to scratch Milan-Sanremo a fortnight ago. "Lorenzo is very important to our tactics, he can be a huge help to Andreas in the closing stages," said Piva, who also pointed to the good form of Stephan Schreck, Bram Schmitz and Marcus Burghardt. "Marcus was solid at Dwars Door Vlaanderen, and Bram is competitive again after fighting back bravely from his early season injury." Sprinter André Greipel will complete the T-Mobile roster.
The 258 kilometres of 'Vlaanderen's mooiste' (Flanders' finest) promise yet again to be exciting, as World Champion Tom Boonen will do everything to keep his title. Piva picked out the Flemish superstar as the man to beat, scoring his third E3-Prijs Vlaanderen win last weekend and having top men at this side like Milan-Sanremo winner Filippo Pozzato. "Quick Step are incredibly strong at the moment," Piva added, but he won’t be defining the team tactics around the Belgian squad. "We are going to try to ride our own race."
Furthermore, T-Mobile will enjoy a premiere at this year's 'Ronde' - sending not just one, but two teams into competition. For the first time, the team's men's and women’s teams line up at the same race. "It is really very special to have both teams in competition at the same event," said team manager Olaf Ludwig.
Fresh off a successful period of racing in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, the T-Mobile women chase World Cup points in Europe for the first time. Olympic silver-medallist Judith Arndt and World Cup leader Ina-Yoko Teutenberg lead a strong team over the 111 km women's course.
The T-Mobile men's team lining up in Flanders will be: Lorenzo Bernucci, Marcus Burghardt, André Greipel, Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier, Bram Schmitz, Stephan Schreck and Steffen Wesemann.