T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich will line up in the Giro d'Italia with dossard 219 - the last number in the field. But after successfully finishing his first race of the season in Romandie last Sunday, Ullrich is not too concerned with superstition.
"The knee has held up well, and I could feel that I was making small improvements," said Ullrich, who called finishing the Tour de Romandie "a small victory for myself."
Ullrich is now looking forward to the Giro for some more racing kilometres. It's a tour that "only starts to get really hard in the latter stages of the three weeks," according to Der Kaiser.
Ullrich's long time mentor and T-Mobile directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage believes, "The last week is really tough. There is no let-up on the program." And, it's a "further important step" on the way to Ullrich's optimal Tour form.
Pevenage has nominated two riders from T-Mobile's core Tour squad to join Ullrich at the Giro: world time trial champ Michael Rogers, and 2004 Giro runner-up Serguei Gonchar. Rounding out the nine rider roster on the 3.526 km route are the Australian Scott Davis, Czech neo-pro Frantisek Rabon, Jörg Ludewig, Matthias Kessler and the sprint duo of Olaf Pollack and André Korff.
What's in a number?
Besides Ullrich's number 219, defending champion Paolo Savoldelli will begin his Giro campaign with the number 1 dossard. And for the record, 2004 champion Damiano Cunego will start with number 111, while red-hot favourite Ivan Basso will wear the innocuous number 191.