The Week That Was...
German magazine Bild is proclaiming the 2006 to have been designed with one rider in mind ? Jan Ullrich. "It's a Jan Ullrich Tour! Come on Jan, just say merci! The French are serving you your second win on a yellow-gold tray...," boasted the headlines.
The magazine has come to this conclusion based on three important changes to the 2006 route. Firstly, there is no team time trial, an event Ivan Basso and his CSC team would have been favourite to win. Secondly, the Alpine stages are at the end of the race, a time when Ullrich has traditionally rid himself of the excess kilos and ridden into some form. And thirdly, there are two long time trials in the race, "Ullrich's absolute specialty," claims Bild.
While the magazine is not so na?ve as to admit that Ullrich's greatest advantage will be the absence of a certain American, they have perhaps also forgotten that Ullrich is his own worst enemy. Excess weight, too much partying/too little training, and that fragile ego of his? Bild might claim that the ASO have done all they can to build a Tour de France for the German, but he has the ability to destroy his own chances just as much as he has of winning the race.
For his part, Ullrich commented on the racecourse via his personal website. "Of course I am happy about the two long time trials, where I can show my strength. The climbing specialists will have their advantages in the mountains - the stages in the
After his surprise victory in the 2004 Giro d?Italia, starlet Damiano Cunego has had a disappointing 2005 season. His lack of results can be mostly attributed to his recovery from mononucleosis.
Next year, Cunego is expected to bounce back and his team manager, Giuseppe Martinelli, told L?Equipe that he expected his star to be ready for the Giro next year, "In a race that you have to say is mountainous, Cunego will aim to win."
Martinelli went on to add that after his absence this year, the Italian would be on the start line for the Tour de France, come next July. "The Tour will be equally in Cunego's program after this year's forced absence. It's also mountainous and it will be good experience in a race that will be dominated by the duel between Basso and Ullrich."
Cunego is not the only rider to be busy thinking about the Giro next year. Team Phonak leader, Floyd Landis, has announced his intention to ride the Italian race, "a perfect warm-up for the Tour." This year?s Giro winner, Paolo Savoldelli, will again be back with his Discovery Channel team. Savoldelli will be hunting for his third victory in the race.
Matt White, the Australian domestique extraordinaire, last week announced his return to the Discovery Channel team. White previously rode for the organisation while under the guise of US Postal. He left to join the French Cofidis team in search of a start in the Tour de France and to join up with close friend and compatriot Stuart O?Grady. Having signed for Giancarlo Ferretti?s Sony-Ericsson squad, both riders were left without contracts following the withdrawal of the sponsor. While O?Grady found a new home with the Danish CSC team, White found sanctuary back with his previous employer.
While initial discussions proved to be unsuccessful because of the 2006 Discovery Channel roster being full, a change of sponsor and some surplus funds led manger, Johan Bruyneel, to call White and offer him a ride on the team. White has signed a 12-month contract.
Finally this week, having left the Fasso Bortolo team, sprinter Alessandro Petacchi is hoping to make a mark on the Classics next year. The new Team Milram sprinter told
Partnering with Petacchi is aging German sprinter, Erik Zabel. Petacchi went on to add that, "It is a great honour to have Erik Zabel as a pacemaker in
Until next week,