One of the world's biggest teams, T-Mobile, had its traditional training camp and presentation in Mallorca this week. Shane Stokes was there for the spectacle.
The 2006 T-Mobile team was unveiled on Saturday in a slickly-presented launch in the Club Robinson Cala Serena in the Balearic island of Mallorca. A total of 29 male and 10 female riders took part in the presentation, with both squads expressing confidence and determination about the months that lie ahead.
As might be expected, star of the launch was Tour de France perennial challenger Jan Ullrich. He won the race in 1997 but since then has had to contend with the dominance of Lance Armstrong, finishing second to the American three times. It is entirely conceivable that had their eras not overlapped, Ullrich would have lived up to earlier predications of himself as a multiple winner of the race. However, although he is now 32 years of age, he knows that it is still possible to top the podium in Paris at least once more before he finally hangs up his cleats.
There has been much talk in recent months that Ullrich was approaching 2006 with renewed motivation. In the past two years he has finished third and fourth in the Tour, but there is a sense that things could be different next time round. Ullrich certainly looked in good shape at Saturday's launch, appearing lean and muscular and fully at ease with his status as undisputed leader of the team.
"This year is a big one for me," he told the estimated 160 journalists present. "I'm not getting any younger and won't have many more chances to win the Tour... If I train normally and don't have to chase after my form in the spring, then I will be better in the mountains in July than I was last year."
Click here to read the full story.