The T-Mobile Team has nominated a mix of young and experienced riders for the Rund um Köln in Germany on Easter Monday. The race, which falls three weeks later than last year, is something of a home game for the magenta riders - the sponsor's headquarters are located just a few kilometres up the river Rhine in Bonn.
The team will be led by the Cologne-based Linus Gerdemann. He will be joined by another Cologne resident in the shape of T-Mobile sprinter André Greipel. Italian Lorenzo Bernucci, Marcus Burghardt, Stephan Schreck and André Korff all travel to Cologne, fresh off racing at last Sunday's gruelling Paris-Roubaix. The squad for the UCI category 1.1 race is rounded off by Jörg Ludewig and Thomas Ziegler. The team will be directed by Frans van Looy.
"We have the right rider for whatever unfolds," said van Looy, who hopes to see his team going on the offensive. "It's up to us to stake our claim on the race and we've got the right riders to do that."
The 202km trek starts in Leverkusen and finishes in downtown Cologne, crossing the lumpy hinterland, Bergisches Land, en route. The highlight is once again the cobbled Schloss Bensberg climb, which the peloton will tackle twice (km 99/km 157) before turning for home. In previous years thousands of fans lined the road here, giving the event a feel similar to the Belgian and French Classics.
In Cologne the riders must complete three criterium-style circuits before winding it up on the 'Konrad-Adenauer Ufer', close to the Dome of Cologne. Nine mountain and five sprint bonuses are up for grabs along the way. Lining up on the starting line in Leverkusen will be a total of 216 riders from 27 teams. Along with T-Mobile, there will be five other ProTour teams: Gerolsteiner, Liberty Seguros, Saunier Duval, Cofidis and Milram.