Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) sees "great chances, but no guarantees" for a Tour de France overall victory in 2006, which would be the second in his career. "I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that there will be no team time trial," said Ullrich, who will be starting a fist pre-season training camp in South Africa at the end of this month.
Another factor that could lead to the German's long-awaited breakthrough are the hard mountain stages in the third week of the 'Grande Boucle', and the great number of individual time trial kilometres to master. But more than this, Ullrich is happy that his personal advisor, Rudy Pevenage, will again be part of his T-Mobile team next season. Pevenage had been 'banned' from the squad by the now retired team manager Walter Godefroot since 2003 - but now that former pro and directeur sportif Olaf Ludwig has taken over this position, Pevenage will reintegrate the outfit for 2006.
"Important things have been settled in order to do perfect work," the 31 year-old continued. "With Olaf Ludwig as new manager, there's a breath of fresh air in the team." Ullrich also declared that the structure is now calmer "because there aren't any discussions about the participation of Erik Zabel anymore."
Furthermore, Ullrich is said to have started a new diet this winter. "The new diet [separating proteinated from carbohydrated foods to supposedly facilitate digestion - ed] does me good," the 'Kaiser' said. "I feel fit, not tired and heavy at all. But I don't miss out on anything and I'm always full." At the moment, Ullrich trains from two to four hours each day to keep a base shape.