Ullrich must "force himself"

One day before Jan Ullrich's late 2006 season debut at the Tour de Romandie, the 1997 Tour de France winner knows that it will be hard to keep up with an already fast moving European pro peloton. "The road will be hard," Ullrich told German television ARD on Sunday before flying out to Genève, Switzerland. "I only rode my first really intensive kilometres a few days ago - they hurt, but I have to ride races now."

In order to achieve the much longed for second Tour de France victory this year, the former German "Wunderkind" plans to sharpen his fitness by participating in the Giro d'Italia after the Swiss tour. "Jan absolutely wants to ride the Giro d'Italia starting May 6 as Tour preparation," said T-Mobile directeur sportif and Ullrich's personal trainer Rudy Pevenage. "So he desperately needs Romandie before that to collect some race kilometres. He'll have to force himself through it - the motivation is there."

Because of a knee infection, Ullrich could not start into the season a few weeks ago at the Circuit de la Sarthe, his traditional debut which was won by Team CSC's Ivan Basso.

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