In a fancy presentation at the company's headquarters in Bonn, Germany, T-Mobile has announced its nine riders for the upcoming Tour de France. Besides the obvious Jan Ullrich, reaching out for a second Tour de France victory in his last chance to beat Lance Armstrong, the following men will engage on the 3,607 km-long loop to Paris for T-Mobile: Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), Andreas Klöden (Germany), Stephan Schreck (Germany), Daniele Nardello (Italy), Oscar Sevilla (Spain), Matthias Kessler (Germany), Tobias Steinhauser (Germany) and Giuseppe Guerini (Italy).
Ullrich is looking forward to stage one on July 2 in Fromentine. "I have always said that a Tour victory is more valuable if Lance Armstrong is participating. I will do everything I can to beat him in his last appearance at the Tour," said the 31 year-old, for whom the American's announced retirement provides "additional motivation."
In his quest for the yellow jersey, the German has a top-class partner at his side: Alexander Vinokourov. The Kazakh was forced to skip the Tour last year after a heavy crash during the Tour de Suisse, but is now also in excellent shape: recently at the Dauphiné Libéré, he soloed to an impressive stage win atop the mythical Mont Ventoux.
"We'll be at the starting line in France with a strong, motivated team in which everyone contributes their strengths," sports director Mario Kummer said, keeping in mind Lance Armstrong and his Discovery Channel team as T-Mobile's major rivals. "It won't be any easier for the other teams. Armstrong will again be particularly motivated. Lately, his form has been improving sharply."
Watch out for a complete report of the T-Mobile roster announcement in the next edition of Cycling News.
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