Ullrich looking forward to final battle with Lance
1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) says that he is looking forward to meeting Lance Armstrong for the final time at this year's Tour de France, after Armstrong announced his retirement from professional cycling on July 24. "Lance will be more motivated than ever because it is his last Tour," said Ullrich. "But his decision means an additional incentive for me. I have always said that winning the Tour against Lance is worth more. I will do all I can to beat him in his last appearance."
T-Mobile's director Mario Kummer reacted to the Armstrong announcement: "After the speculation of the last few weeks, we had reckoned with this decision," said Kummer. "Lance Armstrong has achieved everything in his career. He is a perfectionist, who always rides his races on the highest level. At some point it has to end. With his six Tour victories he has set a very high standard for the future. Lance has left his mark on the Tour at a time in which the performance standards are very high."
T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden had some general comments, not specific to his retirement, to make about Armstrong in a GQ interview: "In his profession, he is extreme, like nobody else. But he can only do that because he's in an American team, because he's an American and the team listens to him."
Armstrong is not really all business, according to Klöden: "He's not as grim as everybody thinks - he's not just 100 percent all out and only cycling. Sometimes he drinks his five, six, seven, eight beers and gets drunk...He is a Rocky type, who builds himself up and then flies up the mountains."
In the same interview, Ullrich said that this kind of one-man show is not for the Germans. "None of us is a solo fighter, we are absolutely team players."
Gerolsteiner's team director Udo Bölts commented, "If I were in his position, I would have done it the same way. Maybe I would have stepped down before the Tour, but I'm happy that he will ride in one more time. I am sure that he will be as motivated as possible and be in top form. He owes that much to his fans and his new sponsor."
Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer