T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich has finished his training sessions in Tuscany, Italy, and is back to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Northern France as of today. The Tour de France winner of 1997 told German Radsportnews.com on the day before his season start, "My training has been very good, the weather in Tuscany being fine during the last few weeks. I'm feeling impatient now, and I look forward to racing again at the Circuit de la Sarthe just like in 2003. I trained four to six hours a day, sometimes climbing, sometimes pacing behind a motorcycle to get used to racing speeds of 50 km/h again," he said. "I took the right decisions, I think. The Vuelta a Murcia was too hard for me at the time, I was still sick. It was better to wait and start here. There were other possibilities, but I prefer to start slowly. Paris-Nice or Tirreno Adriatico didn't seem right to me," he continued.
Ullrich is not thinking about his season's goal, the Tour de France yet. "The only reason why I think of it now is because we're in the region of France now where the Tour starts. My preparation schedule is as follows: Vuelta a Aragon, Vuelta a Cataluña, Tour de Suisse. I will also reconnoitre the stages in the Alps and Pyrenees and stick a training week in Italy in there. The rest (of the training) I'll do at home."
Asked what his thoughts on Lance Armstrong's April 18 announcement were, Ullrich replied, "I don't want to speculate over what he will say. I don't follow these things, but we all know Lance likes to surprise people. [laughs] Maybe he wants to announce that he will ride the Giro in preparation for the Tour!"
The Circuit de la Sarthe is a UCI rated 2.1 event and unfolds as follows:
Stage 1 - April 5: Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez - Varades, 197.2 km
Stage 2a - April 6: Varades - Angers, 92 km
Stage 2b - April 6: Angers - Angers , 8.8 km ITT
Stage 3 - April 7: Angers - Sablé-sur-Sarthe, 195.4 km
Stage 4 - April 8: Sablé-sur-Sarthe - Le Mans, 180 km