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The Dauphiné Libéré (June 5-12) is generally known as the dress rehearsal for the Tour de France,...
The Dauphiné Libéré (June 5-12) is generally known as the dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, and has thus been earmarked by the T-Mobile team as an important race. Team manager Mario Kummer sees the tour as an opportunity to fine-tune his riders for the Grand Boucle: "The tour is very demanding, it even partly runs over Tour de France terrain. At the end we will be able to tell where we are at."
Most of the team's Tour candidates will be racing the Dauphiné, including Alexander Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Oscar Sevilla and Paco Lara. "They need the competition load in order to be in top shape in July," said Kummer, who believes Paco Lara has a good chance. "I hope he could save the form he had at the Tour of Catalonia. I think he might be able to pull something off." Torsten Hiekmann, Christian Werner, Bernhard Kohl and Sergey Yakovlev will complete the line up.
Kummer will not accompany the riders in France, rather Belgian Frans Van Looy will be the team's sports director. He was recently at the Bayern-Rundfahrt to watch Andreas Klöden and Alexander Vinokourov being "right on track...Dauphiné Libéré is the ultimate acid test for both of them," said Van Looy.
Rookie Bernhard Kohl is using the Dauphiné as preparation for the Tour of Austria (July 4- 10) in his home country. "Racing side by side with 'Vino' and Klöden against Lance Armstrong is a great challenge for me," said Kohl.
T-Mobile will also be in action in the GP Kanton Aargau in Gippingen, Switzerland, this Sunday. The squad will consist of the same lineup that will race in Saturday's GP Schwarzwald, with the addition of Erik Zabel. The full roster is: Marcus Burghardt, André Korff, Daniele Nardello, Stephan Schreck, Tobias Steinhauser, Jan Ullrich, Christian Werner, Steffen Wesemann, and Erik Zabel.