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When Gerald Ciolek outsprinted the favourites and won the German championship a little over a year ago it was a complete surprise. On Friday, the 19-year-old German, now back in his green Wiesenhof jersey after his stint in the German champion's jersey, proved that was no fluke when he won the third stage of the Tour of Germany and soon had veteran sprinter Erik Zabel nominating him as his successor, writes Susanne Horsdal.
In Friday's sprint, Ciolek decided to not get caught up in the tussle for Zabel's back wheel. Instead he chose to find his own way to the front and until the last 100 metres he was boxed in, then managed find a gap and powerfully blasted past Milram's Zabel, T-Mobile's Andr Greipel and the rest to take a clear victory.
"This is fantastic. My first ProTour victory. In that respect it's the biggest win of my career but it's not the most beautiful. Because it was such a surprise to win the German championship last year I consider that more beautiful," Ciolek told procycling.
Zabel, who at 36 is approaching the end of his career, was full of praise for the youngster. "I have great respect for him. He's my legitimate successor and has what it takes to be the next German to win the green jersey in the Tour de France. It's a shame that we can't offer him enough and that he is going to T-Mobile," said Zabel.
For the past couple of weeks rumours have been circulating that the young sprinter is moving to T-Mobile next season, and he confirmed that. "It's going in that direction. I've had several offers and expect to make a decision by the end of the month," said Ciolek. "But for sure T-Mobile would be another big step for me. And with regard to what has happened lately, it looks like T-Mobile is about to make a fresh start which also gives new riders a chance."
Saturday's fourth stage of the Deutschland Tour also saw another sprinter pick up their first ProTour win, as victory went to Australia's Graeme Brown, who admitted his was a timely win given his contract with Rabobank ends this season. Zabel finished third behind Stefan Schumacher, but took enough bonus seconds to move into a seven-second lead over Vladimir Gusev.
Ciolek considering T-Mobile offerClose
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