By Susan Westemeyer
German magazine Bild is claiming that Tour de France management wants T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich to win the Tour next year. In a recent edition the magazine announced, "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..."
Bild's analysis centres around two features of the 2006 Tour: the team time trial has been dropped, because "Basso and his CSC team would have been top favourites," and the 'hellish' Alps come in the last week, when Ullrich usually rides better. And then there are the two long time trials, "Ullrich's absolute specialty." Bild hasn't lost all sense of reality, though; it notes that Ullrich's biggest advantage will be that Lance Armstrong won't take part.
Ullrich himself has commented on the 2006 TdF course, calling it a "good and difficult" one. "Of course I am happy about the two long time trials, where I can show my strength," he said on his website. "The climbing specialists will have their advantages in the mountains - the stages in the Pyrenees are particularly challenging, I think." He concludes, "Only when I ride it will I know whether the Tour 2006 course is a good one for me. Like every year, it depends on who has the best legs."