By Susan Westemeyer
German television viewers will likely see the Deutschland Tour again in 2007 but they may not be seeing Jan Ullrich riding in it. Both ARD, the German television provider, and Tour director Kai Rapp have spoken out against having Ullrich's participation in the race.
"It is our job to take care that Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso do not start our race," Rapp said, according to the press agency dpa. He said he was willing to face any legal problems with the two riders, "no matter how much it hurts."
Rapp is echoing the line from the ARD, which said that in "a clear decision in favour of cycling," it has decided to renew negotiations with the race organizers. In October the TV station had said that it would not carry the Tour in 2007 because of the damage caused to cycling's reputation by doping allegations.
"This is respect and acknowledgement for the enormous steps taken by cycling in the fight against doping," ARD Director Fritz Raff told the press agency sid. "The Bund Deutscher Radfahrer and the teams too have done a lot to fight doping." Raff was also against a start by Jan Ullrich, saying "That would be a problem."
An additional problem may be in the dates of the Tour, which is now scheduled to run from Wednesday, August 8, to Thursday, August 16. The ARD would rather have the race run over two weekends, from Saturday, August 11, to Sunday, August 19, but the dates must be cleared with the UCI.