Andreas Klöden will lead a T-Mobile team featuring some of its Tour stars and British debutante Mark Cavendish at the Regio Tour, starting on Wednesday. Matthias Kessler spearheads another T-Mobile eight-man roster for the eight-day Eneco Tour, also beginning on Wednesday.
Running parallel to the Eneco-Tour, the 22nd edition of the The UCI category 2.1 Regio-Tour (August 16-20) takes the riders from 15 participating teams over 709 kilometres through the rolling hills of south western Germany and the neighbouring Alsace region.
Klöden will be riding his first race since the Tour de France, apart from two post-Tour criteriums. He will be accompanied by T-Mobile Tour stars Aussie Michael Rogers and Italian Giuseppe Guerini. Rogers' compatriot Scott Davis and Frantisek Rabon from the Czech Republic are also part of the T-Mobile charge.
Briton Mark Cavendish makes his debut as a stagiaire for T-Mobile at the Regio Tour. The 20-year old is fresh from the Giro Cup in Bochum, where he raced with Team Sparkasse and mixed it with the top sprinters to place a strong fourth. His performance was praised by T-Mobile manager Brian Holm, "The result didn't come as a big surprise to me, though, given Mark's strong performances last year with the British national team," he said.
Meanwhile at the Eneco tour, Matthias Kessler will be supported by the experienced Steffen Wesemann and Andreas Klier, Russian Sergey Ivanov and the Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen. Kirchen has fond memories of the eight-day stage race, which heads over Belgian and Dutch terrain with a short foray into Germany. In 2002 the 28-year old took the overall title, then known as the Tour du Benelux.
The sprinters Eric Baumann and Olaf Pollack round out the T-Mobile squad. Baumann will ride only his second race after a broken leg and is using the race for training, Pollack hopes to bag a sprint win on the flat stages.
The tour kicks off on Wednesday with a 5.8km prologue held in Den Helder (Noord Holland). After a 16.1km ITT in Landgraaf (Netherlands) the riders can look forward to some of the terrain from the spring classics. On the penultimate stage to Sint Truiden - the longest at 213.9km - the riders will tackle the infamous Muur can Huy.
The final stage is a tough one featuring 14 of the short and sharp ascents made famous by Liege-Bastogne-Liege. "To win this tour, you need to be a complete all-round rider. It has a bit of everything: flat terrain, sharp ascents and time trials" said van Looy.