Jan Ullrich's Giro d'Italia has come to a close in the 19th stage, after the T-Mobile captain pulled out on the final climb with back pain. Shortly before the climb began, Ullrich was seen in discussion with team director Rudy Pevenage, and the signs didn't look good.
"I had planned to ride it through to Milan, but I have also always pointed out that I wouldn't finish the Giro at any price," said Ullrich to t-mobile-team.com.
"Due to the tough race profile, the final two mountain stages in particular, we took the decision that Jan would pull out of the race and not overdo things," says Pevenage.
Ullrich added that the allegations emerging from Spain on Wednesday linking him to doping investigations surrounding Eufemiano Fuentes did influence the timing of his abandon, although not in the way one would normally think. "Even though there is nothing behind the allegations, it would have looked ill-timed if I had abandoned on Thursday", said Ullrich, who agreed with Pevenage, that "we wouldn't let the reports coming out of Spain dictate our training program. The sporting demonstration has to take priority. We don't want to jeopardise the Tour build-up."
Both Ullrich and Pevenage were happy with the rider's progress during the Giro. "My form improved from day to day," said Ullrich. Looking ahead to the Tour de France Pevenage said "everything is going to plan. Jan was racing very actively and he impressed in the time trial. We are on the right track and we will continue to follow our race program."
Ullrich will return home to Switzerland on Saturday and will continue to train there in June, as well as reconnoitring a Tour stage and doing one more stage race before the Tour.