After celebrating Erik Zabel's farewell win in Paris-Tours on Sunday, the T-Mobile Team now switches its focus to the season finale in northern Italy this week and a double swansong in magenta.
First up is the Giro del Piemonte semi-classic on Thursday, followed by the prestigious 'Race of the Falling Leaves', the Tour of Lombardy, on Saturday. T-Mobile sporting director Valerio Piva said: "With the ProTour, the race calendar has got much heavier. The riders have less time to recover after races, and many are feeling cooked by now. It is a good thing then that the season is finishing."
Oscar Sevilla leads the T-Mobile roster on Saturday's 246km loop from Mendrisio to Como. "Oscar is still carrying good form from the Vuelta, and he is the man in the team with the freshest legs for the challenge," said Piva. On top of that, the hilly Lombardy parcours suits the 29 year-old Spanish climbing specialist.
While the Giro di Lombardia marks the end of the cycling season and the inaugural ProTour series, it will also be the last race in Rolf Aldag's epic pro career. After 13 years with Telekom/T-Mobile, the raky 37 year-old calls it quits when he climbs off his bike in Como on Saturday.
The Italian duo of Giuseppe Guerini and Daniele Nardello will be on home turf on Saturday. Nardello, in particular, knows the region around Lake Como like the back of his hand. "I live in the area and often train in the mountains around here," said Nardello who has previously scored second and fourth place finishes in the Italian classic. "I am always extra motivated to do well at big races in my own backyard."
Rounding out the team are sprinter Eric Baumann, neo-pros Bas Giling and Bernhard Kohl and Torsten Hiekmann, who on Saturday takes his final bow in magenta. Next year, the Berlin native rides for rival German team Gerolsteiner, but like Zabel last Sunday, Hiekmann will be keen to sign off on a high note. Last year, Aussie rider Cadel Evans (now at Davitamon-Lotto) and Nardello placed fourth and fifth respectively, narrowly edged out by Damiano Cunego in the final shake-up.
Team roster for Giro del Piemonte and Giro di Lombardia:
Riders: Rolf Aldag, Eric Baumann, Bas Giling, Giuseppe Guerini, Torsten Hiekmann, Bernhard Kohl, Daniele Nardello, Oscar Sevilla
Directeur-sportif: Valerio Piva