By Susan Westemeyer
"Jan Ullrich will continue to be our captain. He is our chief, so to speak. He has the biggest potential," says T-Mobile Team manager Olaf Ludwig. Does he have the potential to win the Tour de France in 2006? "The two long time trials are surely not a disadvantage for Jan. But that doesn't mean, that he will win the Tour." In fact, Ludwig says in an interview on www.t-mobile-team.com "Ivan Basso is the main one to beat. But it remains to be seen, how he will deal with the pressure of being the favourite for the Tour." Ludwig's other favourites include not only Ullrich, but also Valverde, Vinokourov, Landis, Cunego and Popovych.
Looking to the future of not only his team but of German cycling, Ludwig says that the "single minded focus on Jan Ullrich" is not good -- "cycling is more than Jan Ullrich and the Tour de France." He finds it good that young riders like Patrik Sinkewitz and Linus Gerdemann, both of whom will ride for T-Mobile next year, have appeared on the scene. "They give us hope that even after the 'Ullrich era," (German) cycling will continue on the same level." He refused to say what kind of results he expects them to deliver in the future, saying, "I want to give them time to develop." However, he notes that Gerdemann should ride in one of the Grand Tours and that the Tour is "a theme" for Sinkewitz. An additional help for the future popularity of cycling in Germany will be the presence of three major teams, T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner and Milram. "That is an advantage for all of us," he notes. "Overall I'm very positive about the future. With the new Pro Tour series and the talented young riders, we're on the right way."