Luke Roberts of Team Milram has two major goals this season. The first is to bring in the team's first victory at the Tour Down Under and the second is to help Gerald Ciolek beat Mark Cavendish in sprints.
The 32-year-old, who is new to Milram this season, says that Ciolek, "is every bit as fast as Cavendish or anyone else, or even faster."
Interviewed by the Australian newspaper East Torrens Messenger, Roberts said that "Ciolek lacks a bit of guidance in the finish and you see the way Columbia rides for Cavendish, sometimes he doesn’t even have to sprint, he does two pedals out of the saddle and puts his hands in the air."
"My job will be to get Ciolek to start the sprint in the best position possible and even attack against the Columbia train.’"
Watching Cavendish take six stage wins at last year's Tour “was almost making me sick,” the Australian said. "It was good to see Mark Renshaw up there doing his job, he’s a good friend of mine, but on the other hand I was sitting there frustrated that no one was really making a big challenge on them."
Roberts's spring schedule ends with the Giro d'Italia, and he hopes to do well enough there to secure his ticket to the Tour de France. He has already opened his season, with a third-place finish in the Australian national time trial race. But he hopes to bring in Milram's first 2010 win, at the Tour Down Under.
"I think there’s going to be quite a bit of pressure on me to ride for the (win in the) overall classification," Roberts said.
"Once I signed with Milram the first thing they spoke about was Tour Down Under. That was mid-September and since then I’ve been 110 percent motivated to do well."
He is grateful to be back in the ProTour, after having spent the last two years at the Continental level. His hopes of returning to the top hit a set back after he broke his hip in a crash a year ago.
"It was tough," he said. Once he was able to ride again, he did his best, and was rewarded with the Milram contract. "It’s a big chance to really extend my professional career."