The man who defeated Sagan and Cancellara

Gerald Ciolek

Year after year we present some of the greatest cyclists who has achieved „something big”, not only in the history of Tour de Hongrie. This year we start our series with a German rider, who won the Milan-San Remo in 2013, but how? In a final sprint he defeated two of his great rivals, Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara.

How incredible race it was! Hungarian fans were so amazed, the German champion won three stages at the Tour de Hongrie. One year after the 2005 TDH, he became U23 world champion, then he has taken part in the Tour de France four times, at Vuelta a Espana three times, moreover, once competed in Italy’s biggest race, Giro d’Italia. Ciolek’s most prestigious success was his victory in 2013 at Milan-San Remo where the two real favorits, Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara were defeated.  Let’s know better this amazing German cyclist!

Gerald Ciolek was well-known in the world of cycling in the 2010’s. He was born in 1986 in Cologne. After his successful junior years in May 2005 he signed a contract with Team AKUD Arnolds Sicherheit and in August he attended Tour the Honrie.

The young, blonde German cyclist made a difference that year in his country’s cycling world as at the age of ninteen, without any team help he won the national road championhsips in Germany, ahead of such „big” names, for example, Erik Zabel or Robert Förster. With this excellent performance he broke the twelve-year winning streak of super group, T-Mobile.

The Tour de Hongrie in 2005 started with a prologue in Veszprém, then continued in Balatonfüred where Ciolek got the 3rd place. Then, the young German competed incredibly, won in Békéscsaba and Dunakeszi, moreover, became the winner of the last stage in Újbuda, Budapest. Beside the three stage victories, he was the leader of the points classification and the winner of the green jersey. It was already certain and clear that time: we would hear about him in the future…

In 2006 Gerald Ciolek was still the member of team AKUD, he won the U23 World Championships and this opened the doors to the best professional teams, he was the cyclist of the following teams: T-Mobile (2007-2008), Milram (2009-2010) and Quick Step (2011-2012).

At the beggining he was very successful, he won the German, Austrian and Bavarian Tours, even in 2009 he achieved a stage victory at Vuelta a Espana, however he could not find his place as the member of Quick Step. So, in 2013 he joined the South African pro-continental team, MTN-Qhubeka.

That time the prestigious La Primareva, the Milan-San Remo had very hectic weather conditions, snow, rain, route changes and extraordinary finish. During the whole race cyclists had to compete in exceptional cold and rain and after 117 km they must have had a two-hour break in the hill of Turchino and Le Maine because of the snow. In the city of Cogoleto they could continue the race, after a long bus journey, then the real „fight” started.

On the slippery roads, coming close to the finish, there were severals parts of squads, only six cyclists were in the front. After the last bend, 200 m before the finish line, the favorit, Peter Sagan went away. He was the leader until the very last metres when Ciolek appeared and took advantage from his own speed he became the winner of the Milan-San Remo. This was the biggest victory of Ciolek in his carreer.

After three amazing years, in 2015 he said good bye to the South African team, he signed a contract with a new German pro-continental team, Stölting Service Group. This name is also known, the team took part in the Tour the Hongrie in 2015. In 2016 Ciolek reached a 5th place in the national championships, then at the age of thirty he retired.