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Columbia dominates Deutschland Tour

Team Columbia dominates Deutschland Tour

Team Columbia dominates Deutschland Tour (Image credit: AFP)

Team Columbia did in its first year what Team Telekom/T-Mobile was able to do only once – it dominated the Deutschland Tour with stage wins, general classification and leaders' jerseys. This year, the USA-based team won four of the eight stages, finished first and second in the overall rankings, and took two special jerseys. In 2001, the team's predecessor, Team Telekom won five of eight stages, finished one-two and took the sprinter's jersey.

In the recently concluded nine-day race, Linus Gerdemann won the first stage, which was also the queen stage, with team-mate Thomas Lövkvist finishing second. The stage catapulted the two into the race lead, positions which they were able to hold all the way to the finish. In the fourth stage, sprinter André Greipel took his 12th win of the season in a mass sprint. Gerald Ciolek's third win of the season, an uphill sprint to Winterberg, followed immediately.

The team topped it off with a one-two punch in the closing time trial. First year-professional Tony Martin was the only rider to go under the 40-minute mark on the 34-kilometre course, and German time trial champion Bert Grabsch was only 34 seconds behind him.

Gerdemann took the overall title and Lövkvist placed second. The Swede also took the jersey for best young rider and the points jersey.

This dominance of the race repeats the success of Team Telekom in 2001. That year Erik Zabel won three stages, with Alexander Vinokourov and Rolf Aldag taking one each. Vinokourov and Aldag finished one-two overall, and Zabel took the points trikot.

The two German ProTour teams in this year's race, Milram and Gerolsteiner, didn't do as well. The newer team Milram was better of the two, with Brett Lancaster winning the prologue and being the first to wear the leader's trikot. The team was happy with its results, according to manager Gerry van Gerwen, who said "We got our desired stage win in the prologue and even had the yellow jersey in the team. Plus we were in escape groups in three stages and so met another goal. All in all we can be satisfied with the Deutschland Tour."

Not so satisfied was the soon-to-end Team Gerolsteiner. The Tour de France exertions left Bernhard Kohl worn out and he lost over nine minutes on the first moutain stage. The team brought in five top-ten stage finishes, but that was all – a scant harvest for riders who are looking for new employers. "You could tell that it was hard for the riders to bring their full performance under these circumstances," Directeur Sportif Christian Henn told the dpa press agency. (SW)

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