For the first time this season, the T-Mobile riders are competing at a high-profile stage-race in the sponsor's home country of Germany: The Thüringen-Rundfahrt (July 18-23) is known as one of women cycling's toughest events, boasting a long tradition.
T-Mobile is sending a six-strong roster to the six-day race. With the current world number one, Judith Arndt, forced to the sidelines by a viral infection, the focus will be on the Americans Kimberly Baldwin and Kim Anderson to battle it out for the overall win in Thuringia.
"But Ina Teutenberg can also always pull something off", said sports director Andrzej Bek. Though the Dusseldorf-native is primarily known as a sprinter, "she keeps surprising us", as Bek stresses. Teutenberg proved him right recently, when she bagged a stage win last week at the Krasna Lipa race in Czech Republic, a hilly affair. She also won the overall title at the Thüringen-Rundfahrt ten years ago.
The fact that the German stage race, according to her, is "a high-profile event" is indicated by the start list. All top teams with their best riders will be on the starting line. And all of them, as the previous race showed, are in top shape. "It's too bad Judith can't compete and we can't replace her", said Teutenberg.
However, she thinks the odd stage win is well within reach for the magenta team. Bek, too, shares that optimism. "We just had to come up with a different strategy". German Christina Becker is now part of the roster, which is rounded out by Canadian Amy Moore and the Frenchwoman Magali Le Floch.
The riders can look forward to a total of 592 kilometres at the Thüringen- Rundfahrt. "A tough parcours", said Teutenberg, "it's a constant up-and-down ride".
At the race's 19th edition, the challenge is an even bigger one than in previous years. The closing weekend in particular is highly demanding. Saturday, July 22, sees a time trial, followed by a tough 74,4km race around Schmölln. On Sunday, the queen's stage, a 113,1km trek from Gera to Zeulenroda await the riders.
Prologue - July 18: Zeulenroda, ITT 3,8 km
Stage 1 - July 19: Zeulenroda – Greiz 129,9 km
Stage 2 - July 20: Greiz – Schleiz 122,5 km
Stage 3 - July 21: Schleiz – Gera 129,9 km
Stage 4 - July 22: ITT in Schmölln,18,7 km
Stage 5 - Juli 22: Rund um Schmölln 74,4 km
Stage 6 - July 23: Gera – Zeulenroda 113,1 km