By Susan Westemeyer
Teams Gerolsteiner, Milram and High Road will all ride in Rund um Köln on Easter Monday, March 24, the race organizers have announced. The race is the traditional first German race of the season.
"Even if cycling suffered a lot last year because of the doping problems, Rund um Köln lives and will continue to be an important part of the racing calendar in the future," said organiser Artur Tabat. "Hard times are coming for our sport, but we are all fighting for this traditional race."
Tabat, who has been leading the race for 36 years, is hoping for local riders to appear. "Meantime, so many good riders from first class teams live in our area," he noted. One rider has literally grown up with the race: Milram's neo-pro Dominik Roels rode the race as a student and a junior. "Of course I hope that Dominik and other Kölner pros will start."
Milram could offer, in addition to Roels, local riders Christian Knees (who won the race in 2006 ), Artur Gajek, and Ralf Grabsch. Gerolsteiner has no one in the immediate area, but Tabat would be happy to have Thomas and Markus Fothen from the Düsseldorf area, or Johannes Fröhlinger, who was born in Gerolstein. Team High Road, the former T-Mobile Team, has two high-ranked riders from Köln, the 2006 U-23 World Champion, sprinter Gerald Ciolek, and the current ProTour leader, sprinter André Greipel. Bert Grabsch and Linus Gerdemann are Köln natives, who have moved away now.