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Team T-Mobile for the Tour de France
 
By Staff
Date: 7/1/2005
Team T-Mobile for the Tour de France
 

By Chris Adamietz

In this year's Tour de France, German T-Mobile Team tries again to beat Lance Armstrong and his Discovery Channel Team. For that mission the team management nominated Jan Ullrich plus eight helpers. For that reason Erik Zabel has to miss the Tour de France for the first time in over ten years. Ullrich’s helpers are Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), Giuseppe Guerini and Daniele Nardello from Italy, Oscar Sevilla from Spain and German riders Stephan Schreck, Andreas Klöden, Tobias Steinhauser and Matthias Kessler.

Riders

The line-up is led by Jan Ullrich. The 31 year old former Tour de France winner seems to be in a similar shape to 2003 where he could almost beat Lance Armstrong. Ullrich had a trouble-free spring without bad colds and weight problems. He started the season with the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, where he finished 10th overall followed by an 18th place overall in the Vuelta a Aragon. After a month of hard training in Tuscany, Ullrich participated in the Volta a Catalunya where he also showed good shape, finishing 18th overall. His next steps to build up a great shape were the one day mountain races GP Schwarzwald and GP Gippingen where he would finish 5th and 2nd. Ullrich celebrated his first victory in the 2005 season in one of his favourite races, the Tour de Suisse. There he won the time trial against specialists like Michael Rogers, Bradley McGee and Fabian Cancellara. In the end Ullrich finished 3rd overall after some minor problems in the mountain stages. On balance, Ullrich seems ready to fight against Armstrong.

[Ullrich had a rider vs auto mishap today during training but was present at the official team presentation tonight, sporting a neck bandage.]

One of his main helpers but also a possible rival for the victory is Alexandre Vinokourov. The 31 year old rider from Kazakhstan is in excellent shape. This season he won Liége Bastogne Liége and finished 2nd in the Tour of Bavaria. His last stage-race before the Tour was the Dauphiné Liberé, where he finished 5th overall including a strong effort with his stage win at the Mont Ventoux. Just a few days before the Tour de France Vinokourov won his National Championships and is going to wear his National Championship jersey during the Grand Boucle.

The big unknown is the shape of Andreas Klöden. The 30 year old German, who finished 2nd in last year's Tour de France, has had an exceedingly modest season so far. His first mountain training camp ever in this spring was followed by a lot of trouble. He could not finish most of his races. After a long period of training he returned in competition in the Tour of Bavaria where he could win a stage. His last race before the Tour de France was the Dauphiné Liberé where he rode without attracting attention. It will be very interesting to see in what shape Klöden will be during the Tour de France.

One of Ullrichs most constant helpers is Giuseppe Guerini. The 35 year old Italian is a strong rider in the mountains and there he will be the peacemaker for Ullrich. Guerini has had a tolerable season so far. The winner of the Alpe d’Huez stage in 1999 finished 17th in the Vuelta a Aragon and 14th in the Tour de Suisse as his best results of the season.

33 year old Tobias Steinhauser is one of Ullrich's best friends but also an important rider for the team time trial and the flat stages. Furthermore, Tobias Steinhauser’s younger sister is Jan Ullrich's new girl friend. So it all runs to the family. Steinhauser competed almost in the same races as Ullrich and joined him in his training sessions in Tuscany and the Pyrenees. His results this season so far have been not more than average but he will be an important rider at Ullrich's side.

Daniele Nardello is also in the team line-up. The 32 year old Italian missed the whole spring season because of back spasm and had to quit in the Giro d’Italia. But now he seems to back at 100 percent, finishing the Tour de Suisse 40th overall. Nardello, who already finished the Tour de France 7th overall in 1999 and 2000, will have to work a lot on the flat and medium mountain stages.

Stephan Schreck from Germany will compete in his first Tour de France. The 26 year old Schreck had a great season in 2004, including some stage victories in German stage races like the Sachsen Tour and the Regio Tour. This season Schreck was handicapped due to a finger injury in the spring season but he fought back and secured confidence of the T-Mobile managers. He joined Jan Ullrich in his explorations of this year's Pyrenees stages and had almost the same races in his calendar as Ullrich. His season highlight was a 2nd place on a stage in the Ruta del Sol. In the other races he had to work a lot for Ullrich and was not able to get more good results.

The only Spanish rider in the team line-up is Oscar Sevilla. The 28 year old Sevilla has not had his best season so far and is far from his 2001/2002 shape. Nevertheless, Walter Godefroot and Mario Kummer believe in Sevilla because he could be an important helper in the mountain stages. Furthermore he showed in last year's Tour de France that he is a good team time trialist. His last race before the Tour de France was the Dauphiné Liberé. Last year he finished 3rd overall but this year he didn’t really appear in this race, finishing 41st overall.

The ninth rider in the team line-up is Matthias Kessler. The 26 year old German will compete in his third Grand Boucle. This season he has already participated in the Giro d’Italia, finishing 25th overall. Kessler has had a reliable season so far, finishing 10th in the Vuelta a Valencia, 7th in the GP Indurain, 12th in Liége Bastogne Liége and 13th in the Fleche Wallone. Kessler will be an important rider for the medium mountain stages and is not that bad in the team time trial.

Chances of Success

Team T-Mobile is the main rival of Lance Armstrong and his Discovery Channel squad. Ullrich and Vinokourov are in great shape, being Armstrong’s toughest challengers. The team line-up is strong enough to beat the Dominator but everything has to work perfectly for Ullrich and his squad: Ullrich and Vinokourov have to work together and Klöden and Sevilla have to reach their anticipated shape. The team will not go for stage victories. The thing that counts is the overall victory in this year's Tour de France.

Team Line Up

Jan Ullrich (Ger)
Tobias Steinhauser (Ger)
Matthias Kessler (Ger)
Andreas Klöden (Ger)
Stephan Schreck (Ger)
Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)
Oscar Sevilla (Spa)
Daniele Nardello (Ita)
Giuseppe Guerini (Ita)

 
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