June 12, 2007

T-Mobile pulls Tour advertising in Germany

France24 | T-Mobile withdraw Tour TV sponsorship

T-Mobile has withdrawn its sponsorship of the Tour de France TV coverage in Germany.

The company is apparently trying to distance itself from admissions by former riders for its team (then called Telekom) that team members, including 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis, used EPO and other banned performance enhancers while racing for the squad.

T-Mobile has pledged to sponsor its team through 2010, the end of its current contract.

In case anyone misses the symbolism, the company has asked that the money be used to strengthen the German anti-doping agency instead.

Former T-Mobile star Jan Ullrich, who won the Tour in 1997, has never admitted to doping, but retired this year after being linked to Operación Puerto. He was turned down for an audience with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today, where he apparently hoped “ ‘rehabilitate’ the reputation of Ullrich and recall his merits and performances.”

Posted by Frank Steele on June 12, 2007 in Doping, Jan Ullrich, Television, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 07, 2007

Tour organizers: Bjarne who?

BBC SPORT | Tour takes Riis off winners list

Tour de France organizers are telling the press that Bjarne Riis has been stricken from the Tour winners list after his admission last month that he used EPO for 6 seasons, including 1996, when he won the Tour.

Tour spokesman Philippe Sudres said: "We have removed him from the list because of the doping admission.

"We consider philosophically that he can no longer claim to have won."

Two issues: 1) A quick look at the official Tour website shows that Riis is right there were he's always been, atop the 1996 Tour.

2) Who, then, deserves the win? Jan Ullrich, who was 2nd in '96 riding alongside Riis at EPO-fueled Telekom? Richard Virenque in 3rd, riding for Festina, which gave us the most scandalous Tour since 1904?

The cynic in me wonders if this is a first step toward eventually declaring that the 2006 Tour had no winner. Some Tour officials have already said they don't consider Floyd Landis last year's winner, and now with Oscar Pereiro refusing to take a DNA test to clear up speculation that he's “Urko” in the Operación Puerto athlete files, organizers may prefer to have no winner to having an appointed and controversial winner.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 7, 2007 in Doping, Floyd Landis, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Pereiro, Richard Virenque | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2007

German officials say Ullrich DNA in Fuentes fridge; ProTour embraces DNA tests

NBCSports.com | ProTour bike teams commit to DNA testing

So it looks like the other shoe may have dropped from Jan Ullrich's retirement last month. German officials announced yesterday that a DNA sample they took from Ullrich was a match for some of the refrigerated blood recovered from an Operación Puerto raid. The Bonn prosecutor said charges are likely to be filed “relatively soon,” for fraud or for violating German medical regulations.

Ullrich's lawyers are saying that even a DNA match is no proof of doping. That is strictly true, in the same sense that a DNA match on Monica Lewinsky's blue dress was not strictly proof of oral sex. If in fact Ullrich's blood was in Eufemiano Fuentes' refrigerator, then Ullrich clearly lied when he said he didn't know Fuentes, and clearly was receiving medical treatments from a doctor whose specialty appears to have been sports doping.

On a related note, the UCI chose today to announce that all 20 ProTour teams and a large majority of riders have agreed in principle to DNA testing. Six riders reportedly refused to join in, but should suffer no consequences. For now, at least.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 4, 2007 in Doping, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 26, 2007

Ullrich hangs up cleats without license or contract

Bloomberg.com | Ullrich, 1997 Tour de France Champ, Quits Amid Probe

Jan Ullrich, who won the 1997 Tour and was 2nd four times, announced his retirement from pro cycling today, amid continuing problems stemming from his alleged involvement in Operación Puerto.

Ullrich was among the riders excluded from the 2006 Tour the day before the prologue. He was dropped by T-Mobile as a result, and is under investigation by both the German and Swiss cycling federations.

“All these wrong allegations really put me down,” the 33- year-old German said today at a press conference in Hamburg broadcast by n-tv. “My career as an active cyclist is definitely over.”

Ullrich said he has taken a job as consultant and representative to Austria's Volksbank team.

In his career, Ullrich never finished the Tour de France lower than 4th place. In 2005, his most recent Tour, he was 3rd behind Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso, another rider implicated in Operación Puerto, but who is now racing for Discovery Channel after being cleared by the Italian cycling federation.


JanUllrich.de | Jan Ullrich sattelt um (in German)

VeloNews | 'I never cheated,' says Ullrich as he announces retirement

“I never once cheated as a cyclist ... I still don't understand why I was not allowed to compete in the Tour last year.”

Also lists his full palmares, including a Vuelta win in 1999, two world time-trial championships, an Olympic road gold, and two overall victories in the Tour of Switzerland.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 26, 2007 in Doping, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 10, 2007

Taking the DeLorean back to 1998

Peleton 3
Peleton 3,
originally uploaded by conibonjovi.
Somebody posted photos from the Tour's 1998 visit to Ireland today. That was, of course, the Tour made infamous by the Festina affair, and eventually won by Marco Pantani.

I see a few recognizable faces here, and in shots of the body of the peloton here and here. It would be very cool if you could tag the photo with notes of riders you recognize.

Also, does anyone know which stage this is? I think that's Chris Boardman in yellow, which means it's Stage 1 or the beginning of Stage 2, when he crashed out. The pictures are marked as “March 2004”, which is obviously wrong.

Some help: the 1998 review from letour.fr, including team rosters.

I promise no more games like this once there's some actual racing...

Posted by Frank Steele on January 10, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Erik Dekker, Erik Zabel, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Magnus Backstedt, Marco Pantani, Mario Cipollini, Photo galleries, Robbie McEwen, Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 14, 2006

Mancebo to join Hamilton, Ullrich at Tinkoff?

Eurosport | Mancebo receives Tinkoff offer

At this point, maybe it should just name itself the Operación Puerto squad, but the new Tinkoff Credit Systems team looks likely to sign a top crop of riders, many of whom were named in the Spanish doping investigation.

Tinkoff has apparently already signed (but not announced the signing of) Tyler Hamilton. Now they have a 1.2 million euro offer on the table to AG2R's Francisco Mancebo, who said he would hang up his bike after being implicated in the investigation and withdrawn on the eve of the 2006 Tour. Mancebo now has a fallback position if AG2R follows through on Vincent Lavenu's statement that the team will drop him.

Tinkoff is also reportedly pursuing 1997 Tour winner Jan Ullrich, also named in the investigation.

Posted by Frank Steele on November 14, 2006 in Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2006

T-Mobile angry at Basso signing

Eurosport | T-Mobile slam Discos over Basso

T-Mobile, who dumped Jan Ullrich, his personal coach, and most of their team management in the wake of the Operación Puerto investigation, says Discovery Channel is violating an agreement between teams by signing 2006 Giro winner Ivan Basso, formerly of CSC.

“We are astonished at the move of Ivan Basso to Discovery,” the German outfit announced in a statement. “We find it inconceivable that they have agreed to sign him, as he must first prove his total innocence against the allegations made against him, just like Jan Ullrich, and only then should he be able to look for a team.”

Discovery Channel director Johan Bruyneel says the team and Basso consulted 4 “specialist lawyers -- a Swiss, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, and an Italian -- and they informed us there was nothing to stop us signing Basso.”

Posted by Frank Steele on November 10, 2006 in Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (5)

September 14, 2006

Investigators search Ullrich's home

Eurosport | Ullrich's house raided

Jan Ullrich is going to have a hell of a mess to clean up when he gets back from his honeymoon with new wife Sara.

A German investigative team searched his house in Switzerland, that of his manager in Hamburg, and 8 other houses.

The investigators went because “former athlete Barbara Bannenberg” (I'm thinking Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons) complained that Ullrich, former teammate Oscar Sevilla, and coach Rudy Pevenage were guilty of “betrayal of their employees.”

Here in America, that will usually get you a corner office.

Ullrich won a libel case against Dr. Werner Franke, who said Ullrich had paid 35,000 euro a year to Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The ruling forbids Franke from repeating the claim, which themselves repeated speculation by the Spanish Civil Guard as to the identity of athletes identified only by codenames or numbers in the documentation of Dr. Fuentes.

Posted by Frank Steele on September 14, 2006 in Doping, Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2006

Ullrich AND Basso negotiating with Discovery?

Eurosport | Ullrich admits Discovery interest

Eurosport reports that Jan Ullrich is in discussions with Discovery Channel, as both seek to return to the top step at the Tour de France.

In an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick (in German), Ullrich said he and Discovery have had contact but have no agreement.

"I have always said I will finish with a Tour victory," said Ullrich, winner in only his second Tour de France, in 1997. "Unfortunately, this year I was prevented from doing so. That's why I will try to add another year."

In a throw-in paragraph at the end, they note: “Basso is another rider recently tipped with a move to Discovery Channel, along with 2006 winner Floyd Landis and Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2006 in Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (10)

July 21, 2006

T-Mobile fax: Jan, you're fired

Eurosport | Ullrich sacked by fax

On his personal website, Jan Ullrich says T-Mobile has fired him (in German | weak Google translation) -- by fax.

T-Mobile manager Olaf Ludwig has confirmed the report. Ullrich says his representatives and the team are to meet next week to discuss an agreement, but if they can't negotiate something, Ullrich says he will sue.

"I am very disappointed about the fact the decision was not communicated to me personally but by T-Mobile's lawyers in a fax ... I think it's a shame that I have given so many years of good service and for all that I have done for the team, that I be seen as just a fax number."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2006 in Doping, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 16, 2006

Ullrich, Sevilla may be kicked off T-Mobile

Eurosport | Ullrich, Sevilla face the boot

T-Mobile riders Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla, pulled from the Tour when their names appeared in the Operación Puerto report at the end of June, haven't yet answered the team's request for an explanation.

T-Mobile apparently gave the pair a July 13 deadline for a defense, and the team's spokesman, Christian Frommert, says it's up to the lawyers now:

Both riders assured us they wanted to prove their innocence when they left Strasbourg on June 30. Now it's in the hands of the attorneys to consider what steps to take next. This is a very difficult situation. I fully expect the situation to be resolved within 10 to 14 days.

Frommert also suggested the company might not renew its sponsorship: T-Mobile “will remain in cycling until at least 2008, which is not to say that it will also continue to do so after that.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 16, 2006 in Doping, Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2006

Der Spiegel examines Ullrich, T-Mobile doping allegations

Spiegel Online | Tour de France: Inside the Blood Doping Investigation

Germany's Der Spiegel takes a look at Operactión Puerto and especially the role of 2 German riders, Jan Ullrich and Jörg Jaksche, and one German team, T-Mobile, in the case.

The story provides some more mobile phone intercepts, showing how those involved avoided naming clients, and how investigators slowly pieced together identities. Rudy Pevenage, Ullrich's trainer, reportedly called Fuentes on May 18th, pleased that “a third person won today.” That was the day Ullrich won the Giro time trial.

Two days later, Pevenage called again, saying he had “spoken with a third person on the bus,” and that they wanted “more, even if it's only half.”

It also examines how T-Mobile's default response has changed over the years, from categorical denials when Spiegel did a story on performance-enhancing drugs in 1999 to forcing riders to sever ties with Michele Ferrari last week, when it turned out that Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, and Eddy Mazzoleni were stilll working with the controversial Italian sports doctor.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 11, 2006 in Doping, Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 01, 2006

Hamilton could get lifetime ban, Ullrich and Basso 4 years

VeloNews | McQuaid: Hamilton facing lifetime ban; four years possible for Ullrich, Basso

UCI chief Pat McQuaid told VeloNews that Tyler Hamilton could face a lifetime ban if claims that he was a client of a sports doping ring in Madrid are proven.

“With the evidence which we seem to see in this dossier, he's gone for life,” McQuaid told VeloNews on Saturday. “The implications for the riders in the case are two years from WADA code and two years from the ProTour, that's four years. And Hamilton, a ban for life. That would be a second offense.”

McQuaid also maintains that Hamilton can't return from his suspension in September, because his punishment wasn't finalzed until 2005, when the ProTour doping rules took effect, stacking a two-year World Anti-Doping Agency suspension and a two-year UCI suspension, effectively keeping riders out of the sport for 4 years.

The UCI expects to see the full 500-page Spanish Civil Guard report on Monday, but the UCI, the Amaury Sport Organisation, which sponsors the Tour, and the involved teams have all seen an executive summary outlining key evidence against riders.

McQuaid also told Reuters Saturday that cyclists were not Dr. Fuentes' only clients:

“Only riders have been named so far. But many footballers, tennis players and [track and field] athletes are on the list.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2006 in Doping, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (5)

Why the 9 riders were suspended

procycling | What the Puerto dossier revealed

What made T-Mobile so quickly sever its relationship with Jan Ullrich? What's been shown to teams so far is the 38-page summary of the 500-page Spanish Civil Guard report, and it turns out that Spanish Civil Guard authorities had phone and SMS records that appear to show a chain of communications between someone calling himself “Rudicio” and Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes.

Late on May 17, Fuentes got an SMS message from “Rudicio,” trying to set up a conversation. The next day, around noon, he got a call from the same number, and told the caller he was busy, and could talk that evening. “But there's a time trial,” the dossier quotes the caller as saying. Ullrich's longtime trainer is Rudy Pevenage, and on May 18, Jan Ullrich won the Giro time trial.

Additionally, the codename ‘Jan’ (and I hope we somehow find that these guys weren't so dumb as to think ‘Jan’ is a good codename for someone named, um, ‘Jan’) is 4 times listed in a lab document concerning stored blood, human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, and testosterone patches.

At Ignacio Labarta's home, police found documents on Francisco Mancebo's annual training regimen, with symbols the police recognized from other lab documents as relating to blood transfusions and medicines, and which the Civil Guard claims identifies Mancebo as client number 17 on the numbered blood bags.

Oscar Sevilla, Santiago Botero, and Jorg Jaksche were allegedly seen arriving with Fuentes and Labarta at an apartment where “four bags of blood were refrigerated.” I don't know if they mean the four bags were found when the raids went down, but I assume that's the implication.

As for Basso, the case against him seems more circumstantial: Investigators claim Labarto referred to him, and José-Enrique Gutierrez, on the phone with Fuentes as Fuentes clients, and the Civil Guard then made the link with the codename “Barrillo,” Basso's dog's name.

Manolo Saiz apparently established the relationship between Roberto Heras and Dr. Fuentes. When he was questioned May 24, Saiz told Spanish officials that Heras insisted on using Fuentes as his team doctor, over the objections of Saiz. That seems a little strange, given that Heras is out of the sport, but Saiz was still involved with Fuentes.

Finally, officials claim they found references to Joseba Beloki in a lab document with notations for HGH, IGF-1, testosterone patches, EPO, anabolic steroids, and blood transfusions.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2006 in Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Joseba Beloki, Manolo Saiz, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 30, 2006

Mancebo to retire, Ullrich and Basso to fight allegations

ESPN.com | Contenders Ullrich, Basso barred from Tour de France

AG2R's Francisco Mancebo is apparently throwing up his hands, rather than either maintaining his innocence or admitting guilt in connection with the Operación Puerto investigation. He told procycling.com, “I consider myself innocent and I have never tested positive. I’m just going to see how this all evolves now. I’m sick of this world, I am going to hang to my bike up.”

Jan Ullrich continues to maintain his innocence, after being withdrawn from the Tour de France by his T-Mobile team.

“The only thing I can say so far is that I'm shocked, that I still have nothing to do with this, that I'm a victim now and that I'm prepared [for the Tour] in this year like never before,” Ullrich told reporters outside his hotel near Strasbourg, before leaving for home.

“This is the worst case of my career so far. I'll go on fighting at any rate. But at this moment, I'm desperate.”

The team says it will demand “evidence of Ullrich's innocence,” or may sever ties completely.

As for Basso, he's going to the lawyers:

"I have nothing to do with all this, but I will let my lawyers speak about this before me," Basso told Italian television.


"I'm totally relaxed. I'm waiting for someone to prove to me that I am guilty," said Basso.

Riis is distancing himself from his Giro winner:

Riis noted that Basso's contract forbids him from working with doctors from outside their CSC team.

"Ivan must prove with his lawyer that he is innocent. I believe in Ivan but I have been forced to take the necessary steps," Riis said.

Also, the updated official start list is up (check your favorite surviving rider's bib number - Julich gets 11, Klöden 21).

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Web reaction to Black Friday banning


The genius behind the “Jan Ullrich myspace page” says the fun's over, and he's incredibly disappointed that Ullrich, who he loves for his class and humanity, has at the very least lied about his involvement with the Madrid clinic:

This is a disappointment on many levels for me, but it's a slap in the face to everyone who loves the sport, to every CAT racer out there grinding it out in Nowhereland for a place on a rickety plywood podium, and everyone who just gets out and rides.

If I'm going to cheer for anyone, I'm going to cheer for David Millar, who has been brutally honest about what he did, and is now trying to ride the Grand Boucle without anything in his bloodstream, unlike God-knows-how-many other riders in the peloton.

Thanks for reading, let's hope Jan and Ivan get themselves straightened out, and lets hope for the best Tour de France in 20 years.

rec.bicycles.racing | My own twisted vision ...

it is this collection of rights : rights to a presumption of innocence ; right to fair and free access to justice ; right to contradict the organs of state - these rights are being dismembered. By the press, the state, the ASO and UCI.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY - by the members of the public *especially in this forum* who think they have the moral qualifications to intuit truth, form judgments, castigate others, all without having enough knowledge to tie their own shoelaces.

This is turning into an event of mobocracy, with all kinds of actors of all spheres.
My opinion - the dopers (whoever they are) have done less damage to cycling that have all the above. Yeah - I suppose lots of you plan to burn the witches.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Jan Ullrich, Links, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (7)

Who's out: Which riders won't start?

There are only 10 riders from the provisional Tour start list on the list of names under investigation in Spain, including 1 reserve. All will be withdrawn from the Tour.


  • Isidro Nozal
  • Jorg Jaksche
  • Joseba Beloki
  • Reserve: Aitor Osa
  • Added Friday: Alberto Contador
  • Added Friday: Allan Davis

Update: Astaná-Würth withdrew from the Tour on Friday afternoon. That adds Vinokourov, Kashechkin, Bazayev, and Sanchez as riders from the provisional start list not on the final start list.


  • Ivan Basso


  • Francisco Mancebo


  • Jan Ullrich
  • Oscar Sevilla

Some mainstream press reports have “dozens of others being excluded from the Tour, but that's not the case. There are almost 40 riders named in the 500-page report, but only these 10 were on their team's provisional Tour roster, so only they can be excluded from the Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Andrey Kashechkin, Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Black Friday: Basso, Mancebo, Ullrich all withdraw from Tour

procycling | Basso and Mancebo out of Tour

The 1998 Tour has nothing on this year's edition, as both favorites and at least one other team leader have been withdrawn from the Tour by their teams.

Teams are scrambling to reshuffle after all 21 teams agreed to ban all riders named in the Operación Puerto report, including Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Francisco Mancebo. The named riders won't be replaced on their team's Tour roster.

T-Mobile has suspended Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla, and DS Rudy Pevanage.

Organizers are considering whether to try again to suspend Astaná-Würth, since 9 of its riders are among the 37 riders on the list. Team leader Alexandre Vinokourov is not among them. Tour director Christian Prudhomme told AFP:

"Astaná-Würth is a bit more complicated because there are so many names from that team being linked to the doping probe," added the Frenchman. "Some of those implicated are on the Tour, and some are not. To us, it looks like they have been operating a team doping policy."

Oddsmakers are working out the results, and currently have Alejandro Valverde as the favorite, at 6.4-1.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 30, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Doping, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

June 29, 2006

Basso, Ullrich, Mancebo among riders in Puerto report

Eurosport | Basso, Ullrich fingered in Spain

Spanish radio network Cadena Ser reports that both Tour de France favorites are named in the Operación Puerto evidence files, unsealed by a Spanish judge today.

Phonak riders José Enrique Gutierrez and Santiago Botero, withheld by the team from competition until the case was cleared up, and former Phonak rider Tyler Hamilton are also listed.

Roberto Heras, suspended from Liberty Seguros (now Astaná-Würth), and AG2R's Francisco Mancebo, have also been named, with about 50 other athletes (not all cyclists) likely to follow as the press gets the evidence files.

Tour organizers had pressed for the names of implicated riders to be released. Now they may be wishing they hadn't.

The story at El Pais (in Spanish) doesn't mention Basso, but adds T-Mobile's Oscar Sevilla, suspended Phonak rider Santago Perez, Astaná-Würth's Joseba Beloki, Angel Edo and Quiquie Gutierrez (?).

De Telegraaf claims that Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha and Denis Menchov (in Dutch) are also named in the 500 page report.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 29, 2006 in Doping, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Manolo Saiz, Roberto Heras, Santiago Botero, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Basso the oddsmakers' pick

Oddschecker.com | Tour de France Betting Odds

European oddsmakers have Ivan Basso a big favorite in the 2006 Tour, sitting at 5-to-4 odds right now.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich, the 1997 winner, is a 5-to-2 pick, followed by Alejandro Valverde at 10.9-to-1, Floyd Landis at 16-1, and Alexandre Vinokourov at 20-1 (and shortening: maybe somebody knows a guy who knows a guy at the CAS?).

For the mountains jersey, it's Michael Rasmussen 2-to-1 ahead of Christophe Moreau (8-1), and Oscar Pereiro (11-1).

For the green jersey, Tom Boonen is a major favorite at 6-5, followed by Robbie McEwen at 9-4 and Thor Hushovd a polite 5-1.

Proving that people will bet on anything, oddsmakers put T-Mobile and CSC even to win the team competition, each at 15-8, while Discovery Channel sits at 11-4.

Here's OddsChecker.com's odds page for every rider.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Christophe Moreau, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rasmussen, Robbie McEwen, Thor Hushovd, Tom Boonen, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

TdFblog GC preview

It's going to be an amazing Tour.

I am obligated, as a writer for a Tour-centric web site, to make some predictions. This year, it is incredibly hard. A lot of riders either have badly screwed up their preparation or haven't shown us what they can do this season (and another, Alexandre Vinokourov, hasn't and may not get the chance to), and we won't find out which it is for a week or 10 days.

Sitting here, three days from Strasbourg, I believe in the two favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich. I believe in Francisco Mancebo. Alejandro Valverde may be the future of the sport (depending on what's in those damn bags), and he's at the point in his career to break out some surprises. These guys have all shown they're ready to rock and roll.

For some reason, I don't really believe in Levi Leipheimer. Gorgeous wife, great results, but I have to agree with his DS: Top 10 probably, Top 5 maybe. Floyd Landis and Alexandre Vinokourov both flummoxed me with sub-par Dauphiné results, but I want to believe.

Total wildcards: Denis Menchov, Iban Mayo, Cadel Evans. I think Evans will finish higest of these three, but Mayo could take a spotlight stage, like l'Alpe d'Huez.

I can't read Johan Bruyneel's mind any better than anyone else, but I suspect Popovych and Azevedo will be the two most highly-placed Discovery Channel riders. Savoldelli and Hincapie will be well-placed up to the mountains, then lose time to the better climbers.

Enough procrastination; here's my Top 5:
1) Ivan Basso, CSC
2) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak
4) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel
5) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne

I don't see Ullrich gaining 4 minutes on Basso in the TTs, and here's why: The Stage 7 TT profile. It's long enough, at 52 kilometers, but it's a fairly technical course. Even if it's dry, I could easily see Ullrich overcooking a couple of corners, getting out of his rhythm, and not going as fast as he's capable. If it rains, even worse.

I could also see Basso gaining some time on stages with downhill finishes, like Stage 17, where Basso could go over the top of the Col de Joux-Plane with time in hand and conserve all or most of that lead for the 12 kilometers into Morzine. Ullrich's bike-handling has always scared me.

I'm also discounting the Floyd Landis nay-sayers, who say he's got no team. I think with a race as open as this year's, the team strength matters less. Landis needs to identify the real team leaders fast, then cover moves only by the real GC threats. Remember Armstrong watching Vinokourov go up the road, and waiting for Ullrich and Klöden (T-Mobile's “official” GC threats) to bring him back? Same idea. There are plenty of other strong riders who will be chasing down the pretenders.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 28, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 26, 2006

Spanish newspapers speculate Ullrich linked to doping scandal

VeloNews | Ullrich denies involvement in Spanish case

El Pais, in a story published today (in Spanish), speculates that Jan Ullrich may be one of the riders involved in the blood doping ring of Eufemiano Fuentes.

El Pais claims Spanish officials seized records that refer to a client called “Jan” who may also be referred to as hijo Rudicio, or Rudy's son. Ullrich kept T-Mobile's director, Rudy Pevenage, as a private coach even when the team hired Mario Kummer as director. Pevenage has returned to the team this year as the Tour de France sporting director.

A log of the contents of a laboratory refrigerator notes three units of blood labeled “JAN” as of June 26,2004. When Jose Luis Merino Batres was arrested, he had what appeared to be a customer key in his possession, noting:

1 - Hijo Rudicio. 2 - Birillo. 4 - Nicolas. 5 - Sevillano. 6 - Sancti Petri. 12 - Guti. 13 - Serrano (alcalde). 14 - RH. 16 - Vicioso. 17 - Porras. 19 - Oso. 20 - Bella (Jörg). 24 - Clasicómano (Luigi). 25 - Amigo de Birillo. 26-Huerta. 32 - Zapatero. 33 - Clasicómano.

The story claimed a survey from last month, May 2006, showed 6 total bags labeled “1,” with one dated May 2005, two dated September 2005, one dated December 2005, and one dated February 2006. El Pais further claims the office desk planner has patient 1 receiving 3 units of blood and half a unit of red blood cells on May 1, 5 days before the start of the Giro. Patient 1 was scheduled for another transfusion last week, on June 20, 10 days before the Tour.

However Ullrich said in a team statement: "That has nothing to do with me," and his T-Mobile sporting director and mentor Rudy Pevenage added: "We have done nothing wrong."

Posted by Frank Steele on June 26, 2006 in Doping, Jan Ullrich, Manolo Saiz | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 23, 2006

Ullrich announces engagement to Steinhauser

Eurosport | Ullrich gets engaged

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich has announced his plans to marry Sara Steinhauser, his girlfriend since he split with Gaby Weiss, the mother of his daughter.

Steinhauser's brother, Tobias, rode for T-Mobile through 2005, and is still with the team, doing hospitality and occasional sports director work. He's also a partner in Ullrich's new line of bikes.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 23, 2006 in Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

T-Mobile announce Tour squad

T-Mobile Team | 2006 Tour de France roster announced

T-Mobile has officially announced their team, identical to that previously listed on the Tour's provisional start list.

It's a talented and experienced squad, and looks to have the horses to bring Jan Ullrich a 2nd Tour victory. Whether they do or not will be up to der Kaiser himself.

Where Phonak left Gutierrez and Botero off their squad after the Spanish press named them as part of the Operación Puerto investigation, T-Mobile will start Oscar Sevilla, also mentioned as a visitor to Dr. Fuentes' lab.

    T-Mobile 2006 Tour de France squad:
  • Jan Ullrich
  • Andreas Klöden
  • Patrik Sinkewitz
  • Serhiy Honchar
  • Giuseppe Guerini
  • Michael Rogers
  • Eddy Mazzoleni
  • Matthias Kessler
  • Oscar Sevilla

T-Mobile also named Lorenzo Bernucci their first alternate.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 21, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz, Sergei Honchar, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Ullrich takes Tour de Suisse with time trial win

CyclingNews.com | Ullrich takes second Tour de Suisse title

Ullrich storming through rain to stage, Tour de Suisse winJan Ullrich took a 2nd career Tour de Suisse win, winning the final stage time trial by more than 20 seconds over his nearest competition.

Ullrich mastered the stage despite a heavy rain that started shortly before der Kaiser took to the streets. Nevertheless, Ullrich was 12 seconds up on race leader Koldo Gil at the first time check, and only got faster from there.

Ullrich's victory in his preferred Tour de France warmup showed he could stay close to the climbers on the climbing stages, and that he's still the man to beat in a time trial. On a Tour route widely considered to favor time trial specialists, he looks well-positioned to take a second career Tour win.

Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, active in the final stages of Saturday's Stage 8, was 2nd on the day, 22 seconds behind Ullrich. He was followed by Angel Vicioso of Astaná-Würth at 31 seconds, and Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic at 46 seconds and Ullrich's T-Mobile teammate Linus Gerdemann at 51 seconds. The best placed American was next: CSC's Christian Vande Velde, 6th at 52 seconds.

Koldo Gil, who came into the day leading the race, with a 50 second gap to Ullrich, was a respectable 9th on the day, at 1:14, to save 2nd overall. Jorg Jaksche likewise slipped one place with a 10th place finish on the day.

Brajkovic was able to move into the overall Top 5 with his excellent ride.

    2006 Tour of Switzerland
    Overall Top 10:

  1. Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, in 38:21:36
  2. Koldo Gil, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :24
  3. Jorg Jaksche, Astaná-Würth, at 1:03
  4. Angel Vicioso, Astaná-Würth, at 1:44
  5. Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, at 2:33
  6. Frank Schleck, CSC, at 2:56
  7. Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile Team, at 3:31
  8. Giampaolo Caruso, Astaná-Würth, at 4:20
  9. Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, at 4:27
  10. Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 5:01


VeloNews.com | Ullrich takes Swiss Tour with strong TT

VeloNews quotes Ullrich:

“It's so close before the Tour de France, and it proves to me that I have the performance and I'm ready for the Tour,” he said. “It's the last little bit. It's really the last polishing...Now I already feel that I'm at 90 percent and I can work on the last 10 before the Tour de France.”

Posted by Frank Steele on June 19, 2006 in Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Linus Gerdemann, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2006

Contador takes Suisse Stage 8

Astaña-Würth's Alberto Contador attacked 33 kilometers out on the last major climb of the day to take the last road stage of the Tour of Switzerland.

Cadel Evans tried to bridge up, attacking on a 4th category near the finish line to gap the surviving leaders, but never got within 20 seconds of Contador. He was joined by Euskaltel's David Herrero maybe 2k later. The pair was able to hold off T-Mobile's chase to the finish, and Herrero led Evans in for 2nd perhaps 3 seconds ahead of Gil, Ullrich, and the other leaders.

Stage Results:

1) Contador
2) Herrero
3) Evans
4) Moos
5) Gil
6) Botcharev
7) Ullrich
8) Gerdemann
9) Jaksche

Gil holds 1st on the GC. Jose Gomez didn't finish with the leaders, and will fall out of 6th overall. Cycling.TV's Brian Smith thinks Discovery Channel's Janez Brajkovic is a rider to watch tomorrow; he has a chance to move up against weaker time trialers.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 17, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 16, 2006

Freire takes cagey win at Tour de Suisse

Oscar Freire took a shortcut to a stage win on Friday.

Freire survived a 20-rider break that went off around the 50-kilometer mark, along with Matthew White of Discovery Channel. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers and Lampre's Salvatore Commesso were in a six-man group that bridged up shortly later.

Commesso and Rogers went off the front at 12 kilometers to ride, and Freire and White bridged 5 kilometers later, to create a high-quality break, with Commesso notably avoiding any work.

Then, with only about 5 kilometers to ride, and Davitamon-Lotto and QuickStep driving the peloton nearer and nearer, Freire bunny-hopped up onto and across a median as the break took the long way around a divided highway.

By the time the break went right, straight, and back to the left to join the lane Freire had followed, the triple world champion had 5 seconds on the trio, and rode all out to the line. His breakmates were absorbed in the last kilometer, and the peloton was breathing down his neck, but Freire took the win, with just enough time in hand to zip his jersey.

Daniele Bennati, Erik Zabel, and Sebastian Hinault led in the field 3 seconds back.

Sixteen riders exited the race today, with Michael Rasmussen not taking the start, and Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Marco Velo, and Dario Cioni, among others, not finishing. Six Team LPR riders exited, leaving only Mikhaylo Khalilov in the race for the Italian squad, which was apparently hit by il virus intestinale.

There was a gap in the field, so Koldo Gil lost 4 seconds from his lead in the overall.

Current GC:
1) Koldo Gil,Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 33:22:21
2) Jorg Jaksche, Astaná-Würth, at :30
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at :50
4) Angel Vicioso, Astaná-Würth, at 2:03
5) Jose Gomez, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 2:15
6) Frank Schleck, Team CSC, at 2:22
7) Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, at 2:36
8) Giampaolo Caruso, Astaná-Würth, at 2:45
9) Linus Gerdemann, T-Mobile Team, at 3:30
10) Alexandre Botcharov, Credit Agricole, at 3:42


CyclingNews Stage Summary | Results | Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 16, 2006 in Erik Zabel, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Oscar Freire, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

Tour de Suisse Stage 6 underway

Simon Gerrans of AG2R is alone ahead of Rabobank's Michael “Spider” Rasmussen nearing the top of the final climb, long descent to La Punt to come.

Jan Ullrich and Kim Kirchen of T-Mobile, Koldo Gil and José Gomez of Saunier Duval and Jorg Jaksche of Astaná-Würth are chasing. José Gomez goes off the front, gets 25 yards, and Ullrich matches it, but loses Kirchen off the back. Now Koldo Gil takes his turn, and he's immediately put 10 seconds into Gomez, Ullrich, and Jaksche.

Now Gil and then Gomez, Jaksche and Ullrich have pulled by Michael Rasmussen as if he's riding backwards. Only Gerrans is still up the road.

Overall leader Angel Vicioso is about 1:40 back of Gerrans, but Gil is less than 20 seconds behind with 2 kilometers to climb. Ullrich's group is maybe 30 seconds behind Gil.

Gerrans is caught. Now it's just Gil riding for the stage win and race leadership. He's got 1:36 on Vicioso's group, and :37 on Ullrich, Jaksche, and Gomez, who is occasionally getting gapped off the back of the German pair.

Jaksche has 6 seconds on Gil in the GC, but Gil has gone out to 40 seconds on the road. Gerrans has caught on with Ullrich, and now Gomez and Gerrans are dropped. It's Ullrich and Jaksche attacking together as Gil goes over the top of the climb.

Vicioso, Giampaolo Caruso, Frank Schleck and  Janez Brajkovic of Discovery Channel go over the top at 1:50, working together but losing time on the half-dozen riders ahead of them. We'll see if anyone can make up time on the 7 kilometers left to descend.

Ullrich and Jaksche are at 34 seconds with Gil at 4 kilometers to ride.

Looks like Gil will stay away, and will take the race lead — the Germans are at :35, with the yellow jersey group with Vicioso at 1:56, while Gil is in the last 2 kilometers.

Gil is riding hard all the way to the line, pumping hard in the last 100 meters to get every second, and he takes the stage win. Meanwhile Jaksche has attacked to gap Jan Ullrich. He's got 3-4 seconds on Ullrich, and he comes in around 36 seconds. Ullrich is at :40. Here comes Gomez for 4th at 1:39; Gerrans 5th at 1:48, Schleck is leading in the yellow jersey, at 2:07 with Brajkovic, Caruso, and Vicioso.

Linus Gerdemann is coming in with another Saunier Duval - he'll fall back out of his 3rd overall, coming in at about 3:28.

The overall top 5 will be Gil, Jaksche at :34 Ullrich at :54, Gomez at 2:00, Vicioso.

Ullrich is right where he needs to be. Even though he's 3rd overall, he can probably take all the necessary time out of Gil and Jaksche on Sunday's time trial, and there's still a lot of racing before that.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2006 in Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rasmussen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006

Ullrich at 75 kilos, three to go

Procycling | Ullrich carrying three kilos of excess

There's one remaining obstacle for Jan Ullrich, who is obviously strong and fit after a time trial victory at the Giro d'Italia last month.

He's about 3 kilograms, or 6.6 pounds, above what he considers his ideal riding weight of 72 kilos, with less than 3 weeks to the Tour. We should get an idea of the effect of the extra weight starting tomorrow, as the road turns up at the Tour de Suisse.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 13, 2006 in Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

Nuyens takes Suisse Stage 3 and race lead

VeloNews.com | Nuyens moves into Swiss Tour lead

QuickStep's 26-year-old Nick Nuyens kept the freshest legs in a late-stage breakaway Monday to take the 3rd stage of the Tour de Suisse.

As a teammate of Paolo Bettini, also in the selection, Nuyens didn't work as hard to make the break stick, and easily outkicked T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann, Astaná-Würth's Jorg Jacksche, and Saunier Duval's Koldo Gil.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich was near the front for most of the day, and he, Bettini, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, David Canada, Giampaolo Caruso, and the 4 who would break away formed a superstrong group of 10 with about 20 kilometers to ride.

Michael Rasmussen, Bradley McGee, and Robbie McEwen were shelled by the high tempo, and came in around 4 minutes back.


cyclingnews.com | Stage 3 Photo Gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on June 12, 2006 in Bradley McGee, Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Linus Gerdemann, Michael Rasmussen, Paolo Bettini, Robbie McEwen, Top Stories, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

Ullrich: Less than 2 years to retirement

Yahoo! Sport | Ullrich to retire within two years

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich, winner of the 1997 Tour de France and five-time runner-up, says he's unlikely to ride more than 2 more seasons.

Ullrich, 32, told German TV channel ZDF “Maybe I can ride for another one or two years if I am still motivated.” Motivation has long been a question for Ullrich, who seems to enter every season 10-20 pounds overweight, then manages to hit a high performance peak in time for the Tour.

As for this year's Tour, Ullrich said he's taking the win:

"Anything other than a victory will be a huge disappointment," added Ullrich Sunday.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 5, 2006 in Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 04, 2006

BiciRace.com offers Tour preview

BiciRace.com | 2006 Tour de France Favorites

BiciRace.com offers a preview of the placings in this year's Tour, still 4 weeks away. Maybe it's no surprise their Italian pride leads them to go with Basso, then Ullrich. A bigger surprise is the 3rd step, where they choose the World's Fastest Mennonite, Floyd Landis.

I'm not ready to count Ullrich out until we see him do some Tour de Suisse climbs, but Basso's Giro was indeed pretty impressive. As for Landis, I hope the possible exclusion of Botero and Gutierrez doesn't prove too distracting.

BiciRace puts 3 Americans in the Top 8. Click through to see who, and where.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 4, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Tour 2006 previews, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 01, 2006

Ullrich will return at Tour de Suisse

BBC SPORT | Injured Ullrich eyes Swiss return

Jan Ullrich, who pulled out of the Giro d'Italia last week complaining of a back injury, will next race at the Tour of Switzerland, starting a week from Saturday.

Ullrich has long preferred the 9-day Swiss race to the Dauphiné Libéré as Tour prep, and this year, he'll be joined by T-Moble Tour squad compatriots Michael Rogers, who also abandoned at the Giro, in his case for a severe toothache, and Andreas Klöden.


T-Mobile Team | Jan Ullrich to ride the Tour de Suisse

Posted by Frank Steele on June 1, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rogers, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 29, 2006

Basso triumphant, anointed Tour favorite

Eurosport | Ivan Basso wins Tour of Italy

Ivan Basso took the next step in his development as a rider, wrapping up the Giro d'Italia in Milan yesterday. Basso nailed down a dominating 9:18 margin of victory, and became the consensus favorite to win the 2006 Tour.

Gerolsteiner's Robert Forster took the sprint finish to take Stage 21, but Team CSC wasn't letting anything else happen on the stage.

Gilberto Simoni is still mouthing off about Basso's win in Saturday's Stage 20, when Simoni claims Basso asked for money to let Simoni take the stage win. Basso admits that he convinced Simoni they should ride together on the descent of the Mortirolo, but says the rest of Simoni's story is a fabrication.

The two biggest surprises of the Giro have to be defending champion Paolo Savoldelli's 6th overall and José Enrique Gutierrez taking 2nd.

Juan Manuel Garate takes the climber's jersey, Paolo Bettini both the points jersey and the 110 Gazzetta competition (normally the Intergiro).

Jan Ullrich, who still plans to show up at the start of the Tour July 1, held a press conference Friday night to discuss his Giro exit and his condition after almost 3 weeks of competitive racing. Ullrich says he and director Rudy Pevanage had planned to withdraw Thursday night, but decided that would look “ill-timed” in light of the doping allegations coming out in the Spanish press. With his back hurting on Friday, apparently the result of a strength imbalance between Ullrich's legs, the two decided there was no reason for Ullrich to continue.

On Basso's Giro mastery:

Ullrich: He makes a strong impression. And his CSC team is well-balanced. Ivan is on top of his game. However, I don’t think he will win the Tour. The competition is Italy is distinctively weaker than the one in France. And I want to have a say in it, too. (laughs)


IHT.com | Cycling: Above the pack, but not suspicion?

Samuel Abt gives Gutierrez a well-deserved callout, and examines Simoni's comment on Saturday that Basso “seems like an extraterrestrial,” with the connotation that something more than good training habits were responsible for his performance.

ProCycling | Basso crowned Giro king

Eurosport | Ivan Basso wins Tour of Italy

CyclingNews.com | General Classification | Stage 21 Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 29, 2006 in Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 26, 2006

Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead

On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.

A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.

On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.

At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.

Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.

Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.

In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.

Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.

Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.

On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.

One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.

Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.

cyclingnews.com | Report & Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 25, 2006

Bombshell: Liberty Seguros ceases sponsorship of team

procycling | Liberty Seguros pulls plug on Saiz! The Spanish arm of Liberty Mutual will stop sponsoring one of Spain's premier cycling squads, after the team's director was arrested in connection with a blood doping probe. Six riders from Liberty Seguros are still contesting the Giro, but ProCycling quotes a release from the parent company that they are ceasing sponsorship as of today. The Boston-based company had modified its sponsorship after team rider Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO during last year's Vuelta a España, and cited the tighter anti-doping terms in ending its sponsorship:

"The implications of Manolo Saiz's detention are highly alarming: they damage our name and cycling's name," the statement continued.

Among the team's riders are Alexandre Vinokourov, Alberto Contador, Davide Etxebarria, Andrey Kashechkin, and Allan Davis; the fate of the riders' contracts is currently up in the air. Also: VeloNews.com | Liberty pulls plug on sponsorship VeloNews quotes from this L'Equipe story (in French | Google English translation) that a Spanish radio network is reporting that Jan Ullrich was among Fuentes' clients, along with about 200 others, after claiming Tuesday that Basso was. Both riders have previously worked with Luigi Cecchini, mentioned in some stories as a friend and collaborator with Fuentes. Like Basso, Ullrich denies receiving medical support from Cecchini, but says the doctor has assisted with his training. In any case, Ullrich said on the T-Mobile web site: “I have never worked together with Fuentes.” VN also reports that Vinokourov says, characteristically, that he's riding the Tour, team or no team. cyclingnews.com | Liberty Seguros terminate contract

Posted by Frank Steele on May 25, 2006 in Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Doping, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Joseba Beloki, Luis Sanchez, Manolo Saiz, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

Piepoli pips Basso on shortened Stage 17

Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli took another stage win today, as organizers chopped off the brutal final 5.5-kilometer final climb to Plan de Corones in recognition of the nasty weather. Race temperatures were below freezing on the mountaintops, and a steady rain fell for much of the stage.

Piepoli sheltered team leader Gilberto Simoni until late on the climb, then rode across when the leading pack broke into two 4-man bunches, joining CSC's Ivan Basso, Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez, and Ceramica Panaria's Julio Perez. Gutierrez saw Simoni was isolated and pushed the pace, but in the last kilometer, he gave way to the Italian duo, and Piepoli showed a little in the last few meters to discourage Basso from contesting the finish.

The stage conclusion pretty much mirrored what we've been seeing throughout the Giro: Basso and Piepoli are the strongest climbers in the Giro, and Gutierrez of Phonak is a tick behind. Double Giro winner Simoni of Saunier Duval-Prodir just doesn't have the legs to contend in the overall, but he did back onto the podium today, with Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli losing 1:29 and third place overall, and being shepherded in by (major correction: provisional results had Tom Danielson) teammate José Rubiera in 16th place. Savoldelli told CyclingNews:

“Well my Giro is getting worse day by day,” lamented Savoldelli. “I still have motivation, but I'm not competitive. But I'm hanging tough and my team is working really well. Because of the rain, I'm feeling better today from my allergies, but I'm still not competitive. I want to do more but I just don't have the legs.”

Damiano Cunego climbed much of the final ascent on his own, down around 9th place, then caught and passed Simoni in the day's last meters, to finish 7th on the day at :41, improving to 5th overall.

Liquigas' Franco Pellizotti managed to bridge to Basso in the last couple of kilometers, but was dropped along with Gutierrez when Piepoli and Basso smelled the finish line. Look for more from him tomorrow, as the Giro travels to his home region.

Ullrich watchers: He was 120th, at 11:11.

Top 10:

1) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 3:21:26
2) Ivan Basso, Team CSC, same time
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :15
4) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, at :19
5) Julio Perez, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, at :28
6) John Gadret, AG2R, at :37
7) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, at :41
8) Gilberto Simoni, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :48
9) Sergio Ghisalberti, Team Milram, at :58
10) Giampaolo Caruso, Liberty Seguros, same time

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2006

Ullrich rocks Giro, takes TT

VeloNews.com | Ullrich shows his form; Basso solidifies grip on jersey

Looks like Jan Ullrich is TT-fit for the Tour de France.

T-Mobile's 1997 Tour champion scorched the 50-kilometer (31 mile) time trial course today, finishing in 58:48, for his first race victory since last year's Tour of Germany.

Ullrich showed he's got the numerator down on the power-to-weight ratio, and the upcoming mountains should help him shrink his, um, denominator.

"To beat Ivan Basso is going to give me a huge morale boost. I knew right from the start that I was going to have a good day.

Giro leader Ivan Basso of CSC was 2nd on the day in 59:16, 28 seconds back, but ahead of Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti, at 1:01, T-Mobile's Sergei Honchar, at 1:09, and Paolo Savoldelli, at 1:19. Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez rounds out the top 6 at 1:42.

Damiano Cunego, who was best able to hang with Basso on Sunday's first big climb of the Giro, lost 5:06 (!) to Basso in today's TT, and Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca did only slightly better.

In the GC, Gutierrez remains in 2nd, now 2:48 back, while Savoldelli slips to 3rd behind Honchar at 3:24 and 3:26. Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson is now 5th overall, 5:38 back, with Cunego 8th at 6:54, Simoni 9th at 7:13, and Di Luca 10th at 7:33.


cyclingnews.com | Jan's one mean motor scooter

Enormous picture of Ullrich at Gazzetta dello Sport

Posted by Frank Steele on May 18, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 07, 2006

Giro Stage 1 photo galleries posted

Graham Watson:

(l-r) Simoni, Cunego, Basso, Savoldelli

(Click through to GrahamWatson.com for full-size images)


José Enrique Gutierrez, Danilo Di Luca

Click through to cyclingnews.com for full-size images)


Ullrich looks big.

Click for AP cycling photo wire. Unlike the others, this will be current when you click through.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 7, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Photo galleries | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 06, 2006

Savoldelli takes Giro Stage 1

Defending Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli of Discovery Channel took today's short time trial in Belgium.

Savoldelli was the only rider to covered the 6.2 kilometers in less than 8 minutes. His 7:50 was 11 seconds faster than Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, and 13 seconds ahead of José Enrigue Gutierrez of Phonak.

Among other favorites, Danilo Di Luca was 10th on the day, at 19 seconds, Ivan Basso was at 23 seconds, Cunego was at :25, and Gilberto Simoni was at :26.

Paolo Bettini, who had hoped to wear the race leader's jersey after Stage 3, came in at 8:32, so he'll need to take 42 seconds out of Savoldelli.

Among Americans, Bobby Julich finished in 8:35, Tom Danielson was in at 8:11, Jason McCartney at 8:21, Phonak's Patrick McCarty, starting his first grand tour, was 93rd in 8:44, and Saunier-Duval's Aaron Olson, likewise starting his first GT, finished in 9:07.

Jan Ullrich finished in 8:39 for 80th on the day.

Top 10:
1) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, in 7:50
2) Bradley McGee, Française des Jeux, at :11
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :13
4) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, same time
5) Serguei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :15
6) Francisco Perez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, at :16
7 José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, same time
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :17
9) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, at :18
10) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, at :19


VeloNews.com | Savoldelli throws down the gauntlet

Eurosport | Back in pink for Savoldelli

cyclingnews.com | Full results | Photo gallery

Tickers: Daily Peloton | VeloNews | cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Giro visiting extreme northern Italy

The Giro d'Italia kicks off today, in Seraing, Belgium.

Today's stage is another of those “non-prologue prologues,” 6.2 kilometers (or about 4 miles) in length, with a healthy climb in the middle.

The official Giro page calls this year's race the five-star edition, with defending champion Paolo Savoldelli, Ivan Basso, 2004 winner Damiano Cunego, 2003 winner Gilberto Simoni, and Danilo Di Luca the five favorites.

We'll also get to watch Jan Ullrich riding into condition, facing a very difficult final week of racing.

To follow today's stage, check out:

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia LIVE race ticker

VeloNews.com | Giro Race Viewer (having problems at 10:40 Eastern)

I'll be posting a Giro roundup later today.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Paolo Savoldelli | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006

"I am the Kaiser. I crush the souls of the weak."

myspace.com | Jan: Male, 32 years old, Berlin, Germany

All due respect to FatCyclist, but this may be the funniest internet bike-racing meme since Dave "Hill" Harvey. Complete with German techno soundtrack.

Just a taste:

The Jan has just done the finishing of the stage two of the tour of Romandie. Romandie is being the worst country the Jan has ever been to. It is smelling like cabbage, and the all the women are looking like wooly sacks of potatoes. Preferably the Jan must dine on the liver of fourteen virgins every morning to be strong, but there are not being 14 virgins in all of Romandie, the Jan is thinking. So I am not crushing as many souls as I am normally doing.

Seen at Podium Cafe.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 3, 2006 in Jan Ullrich, Links | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2006

Der Kaiser? More like der Kaiser Roll ...

procycling | Riis: ‘Ullrich's form is catastrophic’

The cycling web is buzzing over Bjarne Riis' interview with Danish daily BT (in Danish). Ivan Basso “crossed paths” with Ullrich while both were training in Tuscany, and Riis has heard that Ullrich looks more like Hugo from “Lost” than the 1997 Tour de France winner.

Riis said Ullrich's state is “absolutely catastrophic”:

“It’s clear that he doesn’t like riding his bike, and for that reason I don’t understand why he wants to be a cyclist, it’s a waste of his talent,” Riis stated. “He needs to wise up right away. My belief in him is dwindling.”

Riis rated Ullrich's form as near that of his expected Tour rivals, but well below Basso's fitness level.

Of course, every year, Ullrich is reported to look like the Michelin Man during his preseason training, and almost every year, he winds up on the Tour podium.

Truth or trash talk? We'll start finding out a week from today, when Ullrich kicks off his season in the Tour of Romandy.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 18, 2006 in Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (3)

March 29, 2006

Ullrich to skip Sarthe, return in Romandy

Eurosport | Ullrich return delayed

Preseason Tour favorite Jan Ullrich will not start the Circuit de la Sarthe April 4th. Ullrich apparently has been feeling knee pain since early March, and will delay his 2006 race debut until the Tour of Romandy starting April 25th.

While Ullrich has been training, other Tour favorites have been winning: Alexandre Vinokourov took the Vuelta a Castilla y León last week, Ivan Basso won the overall at the Criterium International over the weeekend, and Floyd Landis won both Paris-Nice and the inaugural Tour of California.

Ullrich has traditionally started his season late, but this year will be starting 2-3 weeks later than I remember him starting in recent years. In 2004, he kicked off at the Tour of Murcia March 1, and last year, he started at Circuit de la Sarthe on April 5th.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 29, 2006 in Jan Ullrich, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2006

Ullrich confirms for Giro

BBC SPORT | Ullrich lines up Giro before Tour

Jan Ullrich will race at the Giro d'Italia in May, in preparation for a run at the 2006 Tour de France overall title.

Echoing Paris-Nice winner Floyd Landis, also tuning up in Italy, Ullrich said "I'm not looking at the general classification but I will be keen to test my legs on a few key stages."

The 1997 winner has 6 podium finishes, and is the current favorite to win the 2006 Tour. He will be (as usual) the last major contender to kick off his season, April 4th at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 22, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

What, me race? Der Kaiser awaits first 2006 start

Yahoo! Sports | Still no date for Ullrich's season start

While many Tour de France GC hopefuls are racing at Paris-Nice this week, word comes that 1997 winner and 6-time podium finisher Jan Ullrich still hasn't pinned down any race dates for the 2006 season.

Ullrich is training with Rudy Pevanage in Tuscany, and is expected to meet with T-Mobile DS Olaf Ludwig “in the next few days” to lay out a competition plan geared nearly 100 percent on getting Jan another Tour win.

Ullrich is Lance Armstrong's pick to take the overall in the 2006 Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 10, 2006 in Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

T-Mobile picks first 5 for Tour squad

Monday's EuroFile | T-Mobile names five to '06 team

In its bid to bring Jan Ullrich a second overall victory in the Tour de France, T-Mobile named the first five riders who, barring injuries, will take the start line July 1st in Strasbourg.

They are:

Should be a strong squad, and I think free of the last few years' tension about who's REALLY the team leader.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 23, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Jan Ullrich, Michael Rogers, Sergei Honchar, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

Ullrich going all Johnny Whitaker

Or Butch Patrick from Lidsville
Whitaker or Patrick?

I missed the AP picture at left, of Ullrich at T-Mobile's team intro Saturday, but I wanted to take the opportunity to publicly beg Jan Ullrich to shave his head; I'm flashing back to the kiddie TV programming of my youth.

I can't decide whether he's more Johnny Whitaker (I'm thinking "Family Affair" rather than "Sigmund and the Sea-Monsters") or Butch Patrick in "Lidsville."

Posted by Frank Steele on January 18, 2006 in Jan Ullrich | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Leipheimer takes Tour of Germany lead

ESPN.com | Leipheimer wins stage, leads Tour of Germany

Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer took Stage 4 at the Tour of Germany Thursday, jumping into the overall race lead.

Leipheimer's teammate Georg Totschnig was 15 seconds back for 2nd on the day, a 171.6-km stage finishing atop Austria's Rettenbachferner. T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich was 3rd, losing only 55 seconds to Leipheimer.

It was the highest mountaintop finish of the Euro season, at 2670 meters (8,760 feet) above sea level. Leipheimer called it “the most difficult climb of all the races we've done, including the Tour de France.”

Leipheimer and Totschnig's group shed Tadej Valjavec, Marco Fertonani (survivor of an earlier break), and Jorg Jaksche, leaving the two Gerolsteiners riding with one and a half T-Mobiles (Ullrich and Evans, who joins the team for 2006). Two kilometers from the top, the wasser boys began to gap Evans, and pushed the pace. When Totschnig couldn't hold on, Leipheimer rode away from his teammate late on the climb to try to gain maximum advantage on Ullrich ahead of Monday's time trial.

"I feel a little bit guilty because I know Georg wanted to win, but I felt so strong and I know he won a stage in the Tour," Leipheimer explained in the finish. "I hope he will forgive me. I hope to repay him in the next few days.

Top 10 overall after Stage 4:
1) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, in 19:17:02
2) Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner, at :18
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at :56
4) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 1:22
5) Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, at 1:28
6) Tadej Valjavec, Phonak Hearing Systems, at 1:51
7) Saul Raisin, Credit Agricole, at 2:56
8) Fabian Jeker, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 3:16
9) Patrik Sinkewitz, Quickstep, same time
10) Wim Van Huffel, Davitamon-Lotto, at 3:58


cyclingnews.com | Deutschland Tour Stage 4 | Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on August 18, 2005 in Cadel Evans, Georg Totschnig, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Levi Leipheimer, Patrik Sinkewitz, Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

Di Luca still heads ProTour rankings

UCI ProTour | Results/rankings

Lance Armstrong, who would generally take over the World Cup lead with a strong Tour showing, moves only into 2nd in the new ProTour's post-Tour rankings, trailing Danilo DiLuca by 45 points. Alexandre Vinokourov will move up when Armstrong is removed from the listings: He's third, just 3 points behind Armstrong.

Top 10:

1) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, 184 pts
2) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 139 pts
3) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, 136 pts
4) Tom Boonen, Quick Step, 120 pts
5) Alessandro Petacchi, Fassa Bortolo, 111 pts
6) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, 98 pts
7) Santiago Botero, Phonak, 95 pts
8) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, 94 pts
9) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, 92 pts
10) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, 89 pts

Other Americans in the Top 20 are Levi Leipheimer, 15th at 80 points, and Bobby Julich, 16th at 79.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Bobby Julich, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Oscar Freire, Paolo Savoldelli, Santiago Botero | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack