By Susan Westemeyer
The T-Mobile Team is heading to France to open its season this week at today's GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise and the Etoile des Bessèges (February 1-5). Newcomer Jörg Ludewig is looking forward to his T-Mobile debut and is even a bit nervous. "At the thought of pinning my start number on a magenta jersey, I get flutters in my stomach," said the 30-year old. "The media's interest in the team and in me at the team presentation and afterwards was very big." Ludewig already knows what he wants to accomplish with the team. "I can imagine taking over the role of Rolf Aldag. I could like to ride at a high level and be a good all-rounder," he said. "In Marseille I want to be in the leading group on the first climb. I'm riding for results." In the following stage race, Ludewig will slip back into his role as a helper. "I want to be a good helper for our sprinters, especially for Olaf Pollack, and help to bring in wins for our team."
The team will be one rider short, as youngster Marcus Burghardt will have to sit the races out while recovering from a bad cold. Burghardt is now expected to make his season debut in the Vuelta a Mallorca, starting February 5. Asked if another rider would stand in for Burghardt, team spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews, "We will start with seven riders; we have defined specific goals for specific riders and therefore it wouldn't make sense. We hope that Marcus will recover soon and can continue the development that he has already shown last season."
Another youngster, Bas Giling, is starting his second pro season with T-Mobile, and says, "I have to say, I'm really glad the waiting is over. I trained well, I feel healthy, so I'd say: Let the season start! Of course, the first race is always pretty tough. Getting used to the speed is the hardest part. And a French race like Tuesday's GP Marseillaise is not exactly my idea of 'easing into the season'..."