By Shane Stokes in Mallorca
Although Andreas Klöden and Michael Rogers have some fine results to their credit, including second place in the Tour de France and three world time trial championships respectively, both riders stated at Saturday's T-Mobile launch that their role in this year's Tour would unquestionably be to back Jan Ullrich's bid for a second title.
Klöden is keen to get back on track following a somewhat disappointing 2005 season, but even if he is in the same sort of shape as two years ago, he will dedicate himself to his T-Mobile teammate. "We will have only one captain for the Tour and that is Jan," he told Cyclingnews. "He is the team's number one for the Tour. My job is to get to the start in good shape and then to help him try to win the race."
The 30 year-old struggled to find his 2004 form last year. A big question mark hung over his fitness throughout the spring, but he finally turned things around and was in decent shape during the Tour. Klöden finished second on a stage and rode for the team in the mountains until a broken wrist took him out of the race.
He said that the team has identified the problem in his buildup last year and they would do things differently this time. "I went did altitude training in Tenerife early in the year and that took a lot out of me," he said. "I was chasing my form after that. This year I will not go there, I will stay on the flat."
Michael Rogers was similarly pledging in his support for Ullrich. "Jan has been going well in the Tour for ten years. He has got a lot of experience and I am sure that I can learn from him. I am sure that one day he will retire and hopefully I will get to take over the reins. But I am happy to support him in the Tour."
Rogers said that he is going to ride the Giro in order to build up for the Tour. "We made that decision at the end of last year. The team think that it would be super preparation for me. I don't know if I will do the whole thing yet, we will make that decision during the race. But there are some nice stages there for me, especially the time trials. The medium mountain stages also look nice too, although the last few mountain stages are hard for a guy like me to win due to the type of rider I am. There are some very, very hard stages in the Giro, it is almost too hard."
Rogers said that Ullrich is also considering doing the race. "It is still on the cards. I don't think he has made a final decision yet, I think he will play it by ear. He has been doing it long enough to know what he does and doesn't need to get into form so, as he gets closer to the Tour, he will make that decision."
Also see: T-Mobile 2006 is go