Holczer looks back on a successful year

Two Grand Tour stage wins, third and seventh in the Pro Tour rider rankings, 23 season victories - Gerolsteiner's team manager Hans-Michael Holczer is happy with the first Pro Tour season. "The quality of our successes has changed, they have become bigger and better. And it is being noticed by the public."

After several years of poor performances, Gerolsteiner rode a highly successful Tour de France this year. Georg Totschnig's stage win in Ax-3-Domaines was an "unforgettable highlight," but that was not all: Fabian Wegmann wore the Mountain jersey for a day and Levi Leipheimer finished sixth overall.

The young riders did more than their part to help the team, particularly in the Grand Tours, Holczer noted. Marcus Fothen rode the Giro as his first GT and finished 12th overall, the best German finish, and Sven Krauss finished a close second for the blue jersey. But it was 21-year-old Heinrich Haussler who took the only German stage win in a Grand Tour this year, winning the 19th Vuelta stage. "We know the kid was good. But that he was this good?" said Holczer. Haussler also rode in seven Classic races this year, finishing all but Lombardy.

The year had its problems for the team, too. "Danilo Hondo's positive doping test was a shock for me personally and for the team, too," said Holczer, who was proud of his riders' reaction. "It was amazing. We pulled ourselves together and together we got over it. Other riders accepted the responsibilities in the team. That is a good sign of our team spirit."

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