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by Shane Stokes
September 9, 2014
Former Tour de France race leader and past Deutschland Tour winner Linus Gerdemann is looking with ambition towards a new two year contract with the Cult Energy Pro Cycling team, believing that he can return to the top of the podium in medium-length stage races.
The German rider has inked a deal for 2015 and 2016 and sounds enthusiastic about the contract, which was made official early Tuesday.
“It looks really great. I think the guys really know what they are doing,” he told CyclingTips. “For years they brought out the best Danish riders and it just shows that they really know what they are doing, and that it is a good environment for riders to get better.
“I am really looking forward to sharing my experience, but of course I want to act as a leader and win races. That is quite important.”
The Cult Energy Pro Cycling squad has been racing at a Continental level in recent seasons but will step up to the Pro Continental level in 2015. The budget has been increased and it is currently making a number of important signings.
The 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck has been linked in some reports to a possible move to the team, although it remains to be seen if he recovers from the knee injury he suffered in the Tour de France and will be given a contract.
Gerdemann’s signing adds impetus to the project and should also help it get into big events. Once there, he makes clear that he won’t be a passenger.
“I am mainly a guy for one week stage races. I think I can do well in these kind of races, get on the podium, and if everything goes well I can win. That is also what my palmares is about. I have done that through my career and I’d like to continue that way.
“I have won Bayern, the Tour of Germany. I am good in those kind of races and that’s where I want to succeed again.”
Christa Skelde of Cult Energy Pro Cycling also believes he can clock up important results. “Linus will be one of our leading riders and the team will try to support his season goals with a good mix of experienced riders and young talents.”
Gerdemann underlined his status as one of the top young German talents when he won a mountain stage in the 2007 Tour de France and led the race overall. He went on to win the Deutschland Tour, the Tour de l’Ain and the Coppa Agostoni in 2008, then in 2009 he topped the podium in Bayern Rundfarht.
The 2010 and 2011 seasons were also successful; he took stages in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a Mallorca in the former, as well as netting 16th overall in the Giro d’Italia. The following year he won a stage plus the overall in the Tour of Luxembourg.
Despite a solid 2012, he was left stranded without a contract for 2013 and was forced to take a year out from the sport. He returned this season with MTN Qhubeka and won both stage four plus the mountains classification in the Tour of Azerbaijan and was fifth in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.
Last autumn it was announced that he would be given a two year deal with the team, but CyclingTips understands that MTN Qhubeka did not follow through for 2015. As a result he was forced to look for a new team and also passed over for selection for the Vuelta a España.
Asked for his thoughts on having to look elsewhere, he is measured in his response. “They are focussing more on sprinting,” he said, referring to the new recruitments coming on board such as Edvald Boasson Hagen and Theo Bos. “I really enjoyed working with the African guys and the African project, but I also have to say to say it is not the project I signed for.
“It seems that it goes in a different direction with different priorities. I think it is mainly based around sprinters now.”
Looking back at the year, Gerdemann recognises that he needed time to get up to speed after his season away from the sport, but also feels he performed solidly.
“I think I did a good Tour of Turkey and Azerbaijan. I was still not 100 percent…I had problems with a bowel infection, but I think I was really coming up. Unfortunately I crashed in Luxembourg, otherwise I probably could have done something there.
“Things didn’t always work out 100 percent the way I wanted them to. But I think I was very competitive and if everything goes right, I can still win big races. That was the most important thing to see this year for the upcoming years.”
Gerdemann’s fifth in the Tropicale Amissa Bongo was later followed by 23rd overall in Turkey plus that stage win on day four of the Tour of Azerbaijan. He is satisfied with the latter result.
“It is always difficult [to win].. I won a stage in Azerbaijan, it was a tough stage and everybody looked at me. Maybe Azerbaijan doesn’t sound to most people like the biggest race in the world, but it was really tough racing and it was not so easy.
“I also know from my SRM files that it was a tough day and if I am 100 percent good with my preparation, that I can win big races. That’s an important thing to know heading towards 2015.”
He crashed at a bad moment in the Tour of Luxembourg and believes that he otherwise would have finished much higher than his 29th overall. “I don’t think I could have won on the day I crashed, but I think for the general classification, I could have finished well. It is always difficult to give a number, to say a podium or whatever, but at least I could have done a really good result. “
Gerdemann also takes satisfaction out of his mentoring role for MTN Qhubeka’s young African riders. He played an important part in Youcef Reguigui’s victory on stage three of the Tour of Azerbaijan, helping the rider remain focussed and also be in the right place at the finish.
“For me that was also important,” he stated. “I said to him that because he is always very motivated but also nervous that he has to trust me 100 percent and just follow me. Don’t look to the left or to the right, just stay on my wheel and that I would guide him to the perfect position.
“It was a good finish, quite an uphill and he was really willing to follow me. It worked out perfectly. There were just three guys left when he started to sprint. I won’t say it was an easy victory for him, but he really saw that with experience and trust you can have great results.”
Gerdemann is currently taking part in the Tour of Britain and hopes to perform there. He’s unsure about his programme after that, saying that there are not many races left for the team. However he wants to ride well where he can.
“I would just like to finish the year solid with the team, to help the guys in the races. To bring it to a good end,” he said.
After that, it’s all systems go in terms of getting ready for 2015 with Cult Energy Pro Cycling, a move he hopes – and intends – will be a successful one.
Thanks to Xylon Van Eyck for his assistance with this story