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All for One and One for All - T-Mobile for the Tour
 
By Tick
Date: 6/23/2005
All for One and One for All - T-Mobile for the Tour
 


T-Mobile for the Tour de France, from left:
Guerini, Steinhauser, Kessler, Klöfen, Vinokourov, Ullrich, Sevilla, Nardello, Schreck.
Click for larger image. Photo by Mani Wollner.

Okay, let's cut the cackle and get down to the important facts: Jan Ullrich is not fit. He is fit and trim and has gorgeous muscles in his legs. Giuseppe Guerini is slim, but Andreas Klöden looks downright fragile. And you'll never convince me that Oscar Sevilla is really 28 years old.

Yes, T-Mobile presented its No-Erik-Zabel Tour Team. Jan Ullrich won the fight to be top dog, with Klöden and Alexander Vinokourov having to settle for the titles of "trusted helpers who might have a chance if the boss does a dive." Giuseppe Guerini and Oscar Sevilla will be there to pull Ullrich up the mountains. Matthias Kessler, Daniele Nardello, Stephan Schreck and Tobias Steinhauser will do the duty on the flat stages.


Do we really want to know what is going on in this picture? Click for larger image. Photo by Mani Wollner.

It's not a young, inexperienced team. The riders average 30 years old and have a total of 36 Tours de France in their legs. "Tour Oldie" is Guerini, 35 years old ad starting his 19th Grand Tour. The youngest is Kessler, while Schreck is making his Tour debut.


Tour "oldie" Guerini... Click for larger image. Photo by Mani Wollner.


...and Tour "newbie" Schreck. Click for larger image. Photo by Mani Wollner.

Mostly everyone said just what they might be expected to say. "I'm ready and the team is strong. We want to beat Armstrong," says Ullrich. Vinokourov sees it this way: "I won't be there to ride my own race, but to ride for the team. When team tactics allow it, then I will also take my chances to go for a stage win." Andreas Klöden is optimistic, saying "My form curve is on the up." Schreck is excited but knows that the nerves will kick in, "probably next week when we travel to France." Sevilla is modest, saying merely that he "will of course be giving it everything to support the team effort."

Incoming Team Manager Olaf Ludwig is optimistic, too. "I figure Jan has a good chance. Especially the time trial at the Tour de Suisse pleased me, he made a very good impression."

A rider who was not there came in for his share of attention anyway - Erik Zabel. As the team was introduced, a fan called out "Where is Erik?" Sporting Director Mario Kummer attempted to explain the long and tortuous decision-making process the team management went through in reach its final team line-up. Ullrich said that Zabel deserved a spot on the team, even though he expessed his wishes against it. Even Ullrich advisor Rudy Pevanage noted that it was "Too bad for Erik."

Nardello slipped into the Tour team at the last minute, taking the place of Sergei Ivanov. So last minute, in fact, that much of the team's publicity material still has Ivanov in it.

It wasn't all business and seriousness, though. Klöden received a bouquet of flowers in honor of his 30th birthday today. (No, nobody sang.) And two new team members were introduced: "Ulle" and "Hilde", a VW Van and an original 1968 WV Beetle, which will represent the sponsor in the Tour's publicity caravan.


Klöden ("Hilde") and Ullrich ("Ulle") with their namesakes.
Click for larger image. Photo by Mani Wollner.

 
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Tick's Blick: 22 June 2005

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