Gonchar gearing up for TdF

After riding only for Italian teams, Serguei Gonchar joined T-Mobile this year. The Ukrainian had...

After riding only for Italian teams, Serguei Gonchar joined T-Mobile this year. The Ukrainian had just one small problem with joining the German squad: "I still have to learn English. But the Italian-speaking group at T-Mobile is pretty big, which is pretty helpful," Gonchar said after the first months of the 2006 season spent with his new outfit. However, he noted that the way in which his new team was directed was slightly different to his previous team's management. "The mentality in a German team like this is different from an Italian team," Gonchar said. "Those responsible for everything stay calm and are convinced that they are doing the right thing, even when things aren't going as planned."

T-Mobile chose to sign the time trial specialist in view of this year's Tour de France. "In the past years, the Giro was always my goal. This year the Tour de France will be my high point, and that's why I started the season later," he added, explaining why his first race had been the Settimana Ciclista Coppa e Bartali from March 21-25, where he finished 46th. "I couldn't expect to be successful in the Settimana," he explained. "It was important for me to find the rhythm of competition in my first race of the season."

Gonchar is now riding the Circuit de la Sarthe, where he is supporting team captain Michael Rogers. "I will test myself in the time trial, although 8 km is actually too short for me. All of the time trials which I have won in my career - and that's nearly 40 - were never shorter than 25 kilometres." Indeed, Gonchar 'only' placed seventh behind time trial winner Ivan Basso on Wednesday. After Sarthe, Gonchar will have two weeks of intensive training before heading on to the Tour de Romandie and the Giro d'Italia.

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