Klöden out of L-B-L

T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden has pulled out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The news was confirmed by team...

T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden has pulled out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The news was confirmed by team manager Olaf Ludwig in Liège on Saturday morning, who was quoted on the team's website, t-mobile-team.com, as saying, "Andreas' current form is disappointing. In this shape he is not capable of helping out the team." On Wednesday Klöden dropped out of another Ardennes Classic, Flèche Wallonne, after being prominent in the first half of the race.

The exact reason why last year's Tour runner-up is in such poor shape is causing a great deal of speculation within the team. Two weeks ago, Klöden underwent performance tests at the University Clinic of Freiburg, which revealed power deficiencies. A changed training programme was drawn up for Klöden, and after consultation with the team's medical department the German Champion appeared confident that he could ramp up his power output.

"Andreas' test results were not so bad actually," said the team's directeur sportif Mario Kummer. "Therefore, we can't really explain why he hasn't been able to find his rhythm." Klöden will now have to take a long break from racing, which rules him out of a planned appearance at the Rund um den Henninger Turm in Frankfurt on May 1. Instead, Klöden will be given the time and space to focus on his preparations for July's Tour de France.

Klöden himself is also unable to explain his dip in form: "I am really disappointed. I have been training intensively, and can't quite put a finger on why I can't bring up my performance levels," said Klöden, who will be replaced by the Austrian neo-pro Bernhard Kohl in the last of the season's Spring Classics.

In the coming weeks, the stage-race specialist will follow an intensive training programme under the supervision of his coach Thomas Schediwie. "There is still sufficient time between now and the Tour de France. I am convinced that then we will see Andreas at his best," said Olaf Ludwig.

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