By Susan Westemeyer
It was a successful weekend for T-Mobile Team, as it won the time trial in the Vuelta a España and the prologue in the Tour of Britain, placed second in the team time trial in the Tour of Poland and finished second and third overall in the Holland Ladies Tour. And no one seemed to be more surprised than the riders themselves.
It started with Bert Grabsch's victory in the Vuelta time trial Saturday. The reigning German national champion blasted around the 52.2-kilometres course at a speed of nearly 55 km/h, and beat his nearest opponent by 34 seconds.
"I knew I was in good form after the Tour de France. I had good legs, I rode well but the win still came as a surprise," he said on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com. "I've come fourth and fifth in time trials in the Vuelta before, so it's nice that my time has come. There'll certainly be a glass of champagne with the team tonight!"
There was more action and more results from all around Europe on Sunday. In London, youngster Mark Cavendish became the first Briton to wear the leader's jersey in the Tour of Britain, when he won the opening prologue. He was greedy, and also took the climber's jersey.
Like his colleague in Spain, the 22 year-old was surprised by his result. "I thought my time had fallen short, so I actually shook my head in frustration when I crossed the line. Then I heard I had the fastest time, so it was a great surprise."
Cavendish was perhaps even more surprised at his performance in light of recent dental problems. He had a wisdom tooth pulled about a week ago, and said, "The operation knocked me back a bit and I wasn't able to train properly for a few days. But maybe in hindsight, that has left me fresher coming into this race."
In addition to the two wins, the team could look to two second place finishes, and one third place. One of the second place finishes was the team time trial in the Tour of Poland, which may have been better held as a team time swim. Heavy rains caused the organizers to neutralize the stage. T-Mobile came in second with six riders, two seconds behind winner Lampre-Fondital.
The T-Mobile women managed to put two riders on the podium at the Holland Ladies Tour, even if they didn't achieve the top step. Judith Arndt took second overall and Linda Villumsen finished third overall in the race.
Not everything worked out perfectly for the team over the weekend. Tour stage winner Linus Gerdemann arrived in London without his luggage, which got lost along the way from Germany. And while Grabsch was first in the Vuelta time trial, his teammate Adam Hansen was absolute last, 12'47" slower than his teammate, and just squeaking by on the time limit. T-Mobile's 'Crocodile Man' was hit with bad luck. "Two punctures and no spares on the neutral car accompanying him," team spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews.
T-Mobile now has 58 UCI ranked wins on the season, with the victories evenly divided between the men and women, at 29 each.