By Susan Westemeyer
Team Volksbank was planning on Tuesday to present not only its squad for the 2007 season but also its newest team advisor - the recently retired Jan Ullrich. However, the team announced Friday evening that Ullrich had decided not to appear at the team presentation in Vienna, Austria, in order not to take attention away from the team itself.
"It is very important to me that the only one who stands in the foreground at the team presentation is the Volksbank team," Ullrich said. "The media reports of the last few days and weeks lead me to doubt that this would be so, if I were to attend. This is not about one person, but about 17 ambitious cyclists. The name Jan Ullrich should not be in the middle. Together we can do great things, as soon as things have calmed down."
Thomas Kofler, Team Manager of the Austrian Professional Continental team, said, "Jan is thoroughly supportive of our team. Like us, he has a heart and passion for cycling. So I understand and accept his suggestion, which shows that our relationship is based on friendship and trust."
Austrian television station ORF had originally reported Friday afternoon that Ullrich and Volksbank had agreed to part ways. It reported that Ullrich suggested that he and the team should talk again when the doping charges against him were settled, and that Kofler had agreed. This announcement was subsequently denied by both Ullrich and Team Volksbank.