English lessons for Ullrich & co

By Susan Westemeyer

The 2006 edition of Team T-Mobile features riders from 11 nations -- with nearly so many languages. How to solve the problem of which language to use? Easy, you just take English, the language that everybody speaks more or less. The problem is when it is "less" rather than "more." During the team's meetings earlier this month, the riders sat down and took an English test. "Nobody has to start learning English from ground zero," team manager Olaf Ludwig told the Thüringer Allgemeine newspaper. "Our aim is to speak English over the radio, and the test was more or less just to see where we stood. Everybody found out, what they have to work on."

The test was conducted by the Berlitz School. "Most of the Germans -- including Jan Ullrich -- came in between Levels three and five (note: out of eight levels)," said team newcomer Thomas Ziegler. The goal is for all riders to improve themselves two to three levels. The Berlitz school recommends at least 30 hours of individual lessons and up to 72 hours of group lessons to achieve the goal. Additional newcomers Michael Rogers and Scott Davis are excused from the lessons, though.

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