Professional cyclist Gerald Ciolek will be at the start of the cycling classic around Cologne on Easter Monday, April 21, 2014. At a press conference in the run-up to the 98th edition of the traditional Rhenish race, organizer Artur Tabat and the local hero from Cologne officially announced the start. The 27-year-old cycling star from the cathedral city, who won the Milan-Sanremo cycling classic last year, leads the MTN-Qhubeka racing team together with Linus Gerdemann. The South African team will be reinforced by the Cologne professional cyclist Andreas Stauff and the former German road champion Martin Reimer from Cottbus.
"I'm from Cologne and I still have the dream of winning in my hometown. My friends and family are at the track and it is a very special experience for me”, says Ciolek happily. “My form is right this spring. We're starting with a good squad and will do everything we can to finish at the top."
Ciolek and the former Tour de France stage winner Gerdemann face strong competition in the cathedral city. The start of the German national team with the experienced professional cyclists Jens Voigt and Danilo Hondo from the Pro-Team TREK promises to be exciting.
A total of 25 teams will start in Hückeswagen on Easter Monday. In addition to the Dutch ProTeam Belkin, the German ProConti team Netapp-Endura, which provided the winner with the Czech Jan Barta in 2012 and is taking part in the Tour de France this year, is also starting. The list of the smaller German racing teams is led by the Stölting team with Nils Politt from Cologne.
But not only professional cycling is offered on Easter Monday in Cologne and the Bergisches Land. In addition to the start in Hückeswagen and the notorious cobblestone climb up to Bensberg Castle, the route in the Bergisches Land has plenty of highlights to offer. The numerous starters of the amateur race also benefit from this Skoda Velodome, which this year for the last time on the Easter weekend, the two-day Cycling festival on the Rhine will celebrate with many spectators and cycling fans in Cologne's Rheinauhafen. Because from next year, the cycling classic will start on the second Sunday in June. The numerous amateur riders at the start of the German Cycling Cup, in the context of which the German Everyman Championship will be held again, are led by Daniel Knyss from Cologne, who won the Skoda Velodome 2013 for the Merkur Cycling Team.
This year, until the registration deadline on April 10, 2014, participants have a choice of two route lengths of around 69 and 127 kilometers. The entry fee for the short loop through the Bergisches Land is 55 euros. For the 127-kilometer route, 65 euros are due. Included in the price is a starter bag with a few surprises. In addition, the starters will receive refreshments at the finish.