The T-Mobile team is treating Saturday August 13's TEAG Hainleite in Erfurt, Germany as a final warm-up race for the Tour of Germany, which starts two days later on Monday, August 15 and finishes Tuesday, August 23.
Jan Ullrich will head the team for both races, leading a selection of T-Mobile's sprinters, classics specialists and Tour riders. Ullrich will be looking to follow up, and improve on, his strong ride at the HEW-Cyclassics-Cup where he ended up 12th after doing much of the work to establish the eventual winning group. [/road/2005/jul05/hew05/?id=results]
"Jan Ullrich has come out of the Tour de France in great shape," said T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer of the rider the team describes as "the only Tour winner still active in pro cycling".
Seven other ProTour teams will be using the German race as part of their build-up to the Tour of Germany, which has increased importance this year as a stop on the ProTour calendar. "Never before have we hosted so many top class teams," said race director Jörg Werner.
Tobias Steinhauser and Stephan Schreck are the two T-Mobile Tour veterans who will start in Hainleite. They will be joined by sprinters Eric Baumann and André Korff, while Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier and Bas Giling will compete in Erfurt three days after completing the Benelux Tour.
The Hainleite parcours has something for everyone, according to Schreck, who adds, "Any type of rider has a chance there. His directeur sportif agrees. "You need to be in top shape," says Kummer, "but don't have to be an out-and-out climbing specialist. The parcours could also suit a sprinter like Eric Baumann." And Kummer should know - he won this race three times during his pro career, in 1996, 1986 and 1981.
Nevertheless, climbing ability will feature heavily on the shopping list of attributes for the winner on Saturday. The final 36km comprises five laps of the finishing circuit through the Steiger forest in Erfurt, and the lap features the 1,000m Arnstädter Hohle, which is likely to be decisive.
"The final circuit through the Steiger forest can really shake things up and separate the straw from the chaff," says Kummer. "We already saw that last year." Gerolsteiner's Peter Wrolich took out the 2004 edition at the head of a three-man break with Francisco Mancebo and Marius Sabaliauskas.
Stephan Schreck is especially looking forward to the TEAG Hainleite as Erfurt is his home town. "The Erfurt fans can look forward to some quality bike racing," he says. "The roads up the 'Hohle' are so narrow, and the fans are there in such numbers that you get an atmosphere like at the Tour de France. It is a great advertisement for our sport."
T-Mobile for the TEAG Hainleite: Eric Baumann (25), Bas Giling (22/Netherlands), Sergey Ivanov (30/Russia), Andreas Klier (29), André Korff (32), Stephan Schreck (27), Tobias Steinhauser (33), Jan Ullrich (31). Directeur sportif: Mario Kummer.