German teams happy with Qatar debut

Team Milram performing well in perfect conditions

Team Milram performing well in perfect conditions (Image credit: AFP)

The three German teams at the Tour of Qatar were satisfied with their performances on Sunday's first stage, a team time trial along the Corniche in Doha, the capital of the small Middle Eastern Emirate. Team Milram got off to a "strong start" in the time trial, finishing second, five seconds behind the winning team QuickStep. Team Captain and star sprinter Alessandro Petacchi goes into the second stage in sixth place, five seconds behind arch-rival Tom Boonen. A youngster took the team's first success: newcomer Marcel Sieberg finished the stage in 10th place, which will give him the right to start the stage Monday in the jersey of the best young rider.

T-Mobile finished fifth in the stage, 11 seconds down. "It wasn't a bad way to start. Even if I'd hoped for a bit more from some of the riders in the team," said sports director Tristan Hoffman on the team's website, Partly to blame was the wind, he said. "All the teams were more or less riding at the same tempo. The last couple of kilometres were into a headwind, though, and we lost a bit of time there," added Hoffman.

Gerolsteiner DS Raimund Dietzen was happy with his youthful squad, half of which is 22 years or younger, and includes all three of the team's neo-pros. Although Gerolsteiner finished 12th, it was still only 18 seconds down. "That looked pretty good, especially when you consider we have to many youngsters here," Dietzen said.

While Milram is hoping for a mass sprint finish Monday, which it naturally expects Petacchi to win, T-Mobile will do its best to prevent that from happening. "QuickStep will be too strong for us, as we can only work for Bernhard Eisel. For that reason we will be trying to get people like Servais Knaven into breakaway groups. Our riders all have good legs, and we have a great spirit in the camp," Hoffman said.

Meanwhile, Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss is happy that the race is finally underway. "The first few days in the desert were pretty awful. Three to four hours training in the desert, not a single village or tree anywhere to be seen." Even though the team finished 12th, he was proud of their performance. "The eight of us rode well together and stayed together, which even the eventual winner QuickStep couldn't do," he noted on his personal website.

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