Gianluigi Stanga, Milram team manager, is looking forward to the Tour de France for his two top sprinters, Alessandro Petacchi and Erik Zabel. "We want to get as many sprint wins as possible with Alessandro and Erik," he said in an interview on ZDF.de. "And we will try to get the green jersey for Alessandro."
Petacchi is in good form, having recovered from his injuries of last year and having just won five stages in the Giro d'Italia. "He is quieter and more relaxed, and very motivated for the Tour." Fellow sprinter Zabel "is an enormously worthwhile rider for us. His experience and talent give him the right to stand next to Petacchi." Zabel has said that he will ride for Petacchi in the Tour this year, and "that just shows what a sportsman Erik is," said Stanga. "The two of them get along fine. But I wouldn't have any problem with it, if Erik turned out to be the first across the finish line. The important thing is that a Milram rider stands on the podium."
Concerning Zabel's confession that he used EPO in 1996, the manager said, "We considered Erik's mistake in light of the situation at that time, and also, that it was a one-time mistake that happened a long time ago. Everyone can make a mistake. The important thing is not to repeat it. The way in which Erik confessed his doping story convinced us that he really regretted this mistake. Together with the sponsor we decided to give Zabel the chance to rehabilitate himself with the cycling public and his fans."
Looking to the future of his team, Stanga noted that "At the moment we are totally based on our sprinters. But in the future we want to build a team that will ride for the win in every race." He also says that "it is time for a generation change." One member of the younger generation on his team is Marcel Sieberg, who will be making his Tour de France debut next month. He "should especially help our ace sprinters Petacchi and Zabel. Marcel integrated himself well into the team right off. He will help us a lot at the Tour."