Jan Ullrich is opening the hunt for his second Tour de France victory by beginning his season with the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe, starting April 4, the T-Mobile Team announced today. The decision was reached jointly by Ullrich, team manager Olaf Ludwig and directeur sportif Rudy Pevenage, at a meeting at Ullrich's training camp in Tuscany. "Jan has had good experiences opening his season with Sarthe the last few years," said Ludwig. "The race goes partially over hilly terrain. Plus there is a time trial included, so that Jan can get used to the pressure of competitive racing."
Ullrich raced Sarthe in 2003 and 2005. "It's a good 'starter' race," Ullrich said. "It's not too hard, but you have to be pretty fast to be able to keep up. I can try a few things out, particularly during the time trial." He will be accompanied by, among others, teammates Serhey Honchar and Michael Rogers, both of whom will use the race to build up their form.
The team and Ullrich have also decided that he, "will not ride any of the spring classics," Ludwig added, but further race planning has not been decided. Until the Sarthe starts, Ullrich will continue to train in Tuscany. He is training alone at the moment, but expects to be joined by teammates Giuseppe Guerini and Honchar.
Courtesy Susan Westemeyer