Weisenhof-Akud's Marcel Sieberg tends to stand out in a crowd - he's 1.98 meters tall and has a shock of red hair to top it off. But the 23-year-old would rather be noticed because of his impressive results. In only his second pro year, he is doing it up right. Last year he won the Ronde van Drenthe and so far this season he's finished well in the Tour of Qatar, sprinting to fifth place on stage 2. Susan Westemeyer caught up with Sieberg between races and asked him what's in store for 2006.
Cyclingnews: At the Tour of Qatar you finished 21st and were fifth on stage 2. What kind of experience was racing against stars like Boonen and Zabel and doing so well against them?
Marcel Sieberg: At the beginning of the season it was a real challenge to start with such big names in the field. In addition, I knew that Qatar is known for its strong wind, and it was difficult to fight against the top teams for a good position, especially near the end of each stage. Sometimes it didn't work out, but then there was also the fifth place, which made me very happy.
CN: You are very tall and not exactly the lightest rider. How do you find climbing mountains and do you ever see your size as a drawback?
MS: Yes, at nearly 2 metres tall and weighing about 80kg it's not so easy to ride with the best in the mountains. I see climbing as my biggest weakness, but I still surprise myself because sometimes it goes quite well - maybe the problem lies more in my head. But I don't see it as a drawback because I'm more of a classics rider.
CN: In that case, which direction do you see your career developing - an all-rounder, sprinter, stage racer or classics rider? What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how do you hope your development continues?
MS: I see myself developing as a classics rider, as I was able to prove last year. My sprinting abilities are also pretty good, but I wouldn't call myself a top sprinter. I like the Belgian and Netherlands races a lot, with their bad weather, pave and hard races - all of these things particularly motivate me.
CN: What's on your racing calendar this year?
MS: The first Classics come at the end of February - Het Volk, Kuurne Brussel Kuurne...but the beginning of April is the first highlight of my season; Ronde van Vlaanderen. Everything is planned up until May, and then we'll look further ahead after then. My goal this season is to develop further - last year I won Ronde van Drenthe and managed a lot of good top 10 finishes. Maybe - no, hopefully - I'll be able to accomplish more this year!
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