March 08, 2004
Graham Watson: Ullrich’s early season
Graham Watson comments on what he saw in Murcia this week, focusing on Jan Ullrich, who, despite vowing to take it to Armstrong in July, showed up this season with the typical 5 extra kilos, and legs not quite loosened up from a long winter:
If you didn't know that Ullrich possesses the strength to win the Tour again, it would be easy to laugh at his clumsy method of riding hills in Murcia. Drive alongside him on a hill and you'll see him stubbornly sitting down in his saddle while all those around him are dancing on their pedals. And while his colleagues are all pedaling reasonably sensible gears to cope with the climbing, Ullrich simply grinds away in a gear that seems likely to bring him to a dead-stop at any moment.
It's been like this ever since Ullrich raced at a mature age, so he is unlikely to change now, but it is no wonder that when men like Armstrong, Iban Mayo and Gilberto Simoni can accelerate away on the steepest of gradients, Ullrich is left to plod along at his own pace, hoping the steepness will fall away and allow him to re-coup some of his lost time. Because of who is he, and because of what he has done, it is hard to criticize the German's approach to the Tour. He is still the most impressive cyclist to watch in a bike race; legs pumping up and down, Ullrich is a robot in motion, a dream of a man-in motion-on-a-bike. Yet one wonders what he might achieve in July if he actually started the season five-kilos less in weight, and had five months in which to hone his form rather than five months in which to get himself merely into contention.
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by this time the attention may have largely shifted from classification to processes which implies continuity
Posted by: elena romascanu at Mar 10, 2004 9:48:04 AM