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List of retirees grows as more riders are unable to find teams

Joseph Delves
31 Jan 2017

Without team spots for the coming season two of German cycling's old guard hang up their wheels, adding to a growing list of now ex-pros

Linus Gerdemann and Gerald Ciolek have announced their retirement having failed to secure team spots following the closure of the Stölting Continental squad.

Cycling is a harsh game and you’re only ever as good as your last performance. This is especially true for riders north of 30 years old.

Ciolek’s last big win came in the snow curtailed 2013 Milan–San Remo.

However, a lean couple of years combined with the folding of the Stölting team left him without the pull to attract a major sponsor, leading his manager to announce the rider’s retirement.

Having ridden for the same squad as his compatriot, Linus Gerdemann found himself in a near identical situation.

With some notable wins between them, both riders were once held up as big prospects for German cycling, although it’s arguable neither quite lived up to their early potential.

Gerdemann shot to prominence with a mountain stage win in the 2007 Tour de France that saw him hold the Maillot Jaune for two days.

The following year he delighted home fans by winning the overall classification at the last ever Deutschland Tour.

Those two triumphs represented the biggest wins of his career. The following years saw a stage win at the Tirreno–Adriatico and an overall win at the Tour de Luxembourg, although in 2013 he missed the season after being unable to find a team, before signing for MTN-Qhubeka the following year. 

Ciolek began his career as a young sprinter, muscling his way to the front of races without the aid of the lead out train commanded by some of the bigger names like Erik Zabel and Robert Förster.

Despite that, rides on the T-Mobile, Milram and Quick-Step teams failed to produce many individual victories for the German.

Instead he became a sought after leadout man, helping set up all four of Mark Cavendish's stage wins during the 2008 Tour de France while riding for Team Columbia.

Ciolek will be best remembered for his sole Monument win, which came at Milan–San Remo, where on a brutally cold and snowy day in 2013 he beat favourites Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara to the line. 

Other names that have announced they won’t we be contesting the 2017 season include Lieuwe Westra, Paul Voss, Patrick Gretsch, Mário Costa, Luca Paolini and Gianni Meersman. 

Paolini had been hoping to return to the sport having served an 18-month suspension for cocaine use which saw him thrown off the Tour de France in 2015.

However, his recent ban meant that he found most doors closed to him, reporting that even Alexandre Vinokourov wasn't prepared to hire him for Astana. 

'Vinokourov told me that with the ban that I had, he could not hire me. Coming from him that made me laugh,' Paolini said when announcing his retirement

More upsettingly the Belgian stage-hunter Gianni Meersman was forced to retire after a diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmia and scar tissue on his heart put him at serious medical risk should he continue racing at a professional level.

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