T-Mobile look for a Swiss Roll
Defending champion Jan Ullrich spearheads the T-Mobile Team roster that goes into battle at Saturday's 69th edition of the Tour de Suisse. The team captain will use the nine-day race through the Alpine nation as the penultimate competitive warm-up before launching his latest Tour de France bid. Seven other experienced stage race specialists will support Ullrich at Switzerland's showcase cycling event.
"Defending my title is not on my mind, this is all about a measured build-up to the Tour de France," says the 31-year-old German, who sealed victory last year by a solitary second from local hero Fabian Jeker (Saunier Duval) after a nail-biting final day time trial win in Lugano.
Switzerland brings out the best in Guerini
Lining up alongside Ullrich in the 1354 km long trek through Switzerland are four fellow Germans: Tobias Steinhauser, Stephan Schreck, Steffen Wesemann and the
evergreen Rolf Aldag. The team management has also nominated the Italian duo of Giuseppe Guerini and Daniele Nardello, with the latter's form and fitness back on track after recovering from the back injury that forced him to abandon the Giro d'Italia. The Russian all-rounder Sergey Ivanov rounds out the eight-man roster.
Recent tours have shown that the Swiss parcours seems to bring out the best in Giuseppe Guerini. The Italian 'mountain goat' finished eight overall in 2004, and in 2003 he was runner-up to team-mate Alexander Vinokourov on GC. "We are using this race first and foremost as part of our Tour preparations. But maybe Giuseppe can also etch out a good overall placing," says T-Mobile sporting director Mario Kummer, who will be overseeing team affairs in Switzerland together with Giovanni
The competition in Switzerland will be stiff, with a number of top class riders using the ProTour race as part of their build-up to the Tour. They include Paris-Nice winner, Bobby Julich (CSC), Spanish rising star Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears), Austrian climber Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner), mystery man Joseba Beloki (Liberty Seguros), Giro sensation Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) and German young gun Patrik
Sinkewitz (Quick Step).
The event, which was first staged in 1933, kicks-off on Saturday with a 170 km long stage starting in Schaffhausen, in the north of the country. The first GC selection is expected on Sunday already, when the riders tackle a 36 km time trial stage in and around Weinfelden.
Plenty of climbing awaits
While stages one, four and five will offer the sprinters a chance to flex their muscles, stage three, which finishes atop St. Anton (in Austria), and the summit finishes in Arosa (stage six) and Verbier (stage eight) will certainly test the climbing legs in the peloton. "These stages will give me a chance to test my climbing form. I want to showing myself at the front of affairs on at least one or two stages," says Ullrich.
The ninth and final stage, starting and finishing in Ulrichen, will certainly separate the men from the boys: 50 km of climbing, and 50 km of descending, taking in the leg-breaking Nufenen, Gotthard and Furka passes. The severity of Sunday's crunch final stage should rule out any repeat of last year's freakish one second winning margin and keep the race leader on his guard.
The roster in brief:
Rolf Aldag (36), Jan Ullrich (31), Giuseppe Guerini (35/Italy), Tobias Steinhauser (33), Stephan Schreck (26), Daniele Nardello (32/Italy), Steffen Wesemann (34) and Sergey Ivanov (30/Russia).
Sporting director: Mario Kummer
Sporting manager: Giovanni Fidanza
Fabian Jeker, Jan Ullrich, Dario David Cioni, the 2004 final
podium. Courtesy Phonak and Tour de Suisse.
Franco Pellizotti – Thinking of the Tour
After a very good beginning of the race season and the victory of the “Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali”, Franco Pellizotti will come back racing in the Tour de Suisse. The stage race is starting on Saturday 11 June from Schaffhausen and finishing on Sunday 19 in Hulrichen.
The Liquigas-Bianchi rider - in his first race after Liège-Bastogne-Liège - is satisfied with his condition: "I'm not at my best yet but I feel I’m better day by day. Unluckily an intestinal virus urged me to a short stop two weeks ago. However, I will be competitive in the Tour de Suisse, the Italian Championships and above all the Tour de France."
Besides the Dolphin of Bibione, the Tour de Suisse Liquigas-Bianchi team will feature Albasini, Carlström, Colli, Mugerli, Pagliarini, Wegelius, and Zanotti. Team managers: Stefano Zanatta and Mario Scirea.
Lampre Caffita have announced their team and Gilberto Simoni will not be riding. The team will be led by hard man Salvatore Commesso, who will ride with Gerrit Glomser, David Loosli, Andreas Matzbacher,Marius Sabaliauskas, Patxi Vila, Daniele Righi and Marco Marzano. Patxi Vila showed fine form in the Giro Italia and may surprise in the mountains.
Phonak for their Home Tour
Leading the Team Classification in the Dauphine, team Phonak have the strength in depth to present a very strong team for the Tour de Suisse. The Phonak team will be Niki Aebersold, Aurélien Clerc, Martin Elmiger, Alexandre Moos, Gregory Rast, Daniel Schnider, Tadej Valjavec, Steve Zampieri.
Hoping for a memorable race is Alexandre Moos who recently showed good legs by outsprinting no lesser a rider than Jan Ulrich in the GP Kanton Aargau, Gippingen.
It was Alexandre Moos' ninth victory and the 32-year-old Phonak rider from Valais puts this win on the same level as stage wins at the 2002 Tour de Suisse and 2004 Tour de Romandie. In addition, it motivates him for upcoming races.
Talking to the Phonak website he revealed his ambitions for the future -
Alexandre Moos, how does it feel to beat Jan Ullrich in a sprint?
It doesn't matter who you leave behind in a race. The main thing is winning. Even though it's not the main goal, it does give you added pleasure when you're able to beat a Tour de France favourite like Jan Ullrich in a head-to-head match.
Marcel Strauss attacked during the last lap. Why didn't you launch an attack yourself?
I was observing Strauss from behind. It was clear to me that he was not able to win himself. That's why I didn't launch a counterattack.
All of your nine professional wins so far have been claimed on Swiss streets. Why do you do so well in home races?
The first races I won were in western Switzerland. Now I'm working my way towards German-speaking Switzerland. (laughs) Of course, I'm joking. The Swiss crowd always spurs me to perform at peak level.
This win give you special motivation for the Tour de Suisse, which begins on Friday?
At the moment I'm just happy about this win. For me, it's a reward for hard training. It does motivate me, but also for the upcoming races and especially for the Tour de Suisse, where I just want to be riding as far ahead as possible.
Moos. Courtesy Phonak