By Andrew Hood
Bobby Julich, fresh off his bronze medal in the Olympic time trial, won’t start Sunday’s World Cup race, Zürich Metzgete. According to information from Team CSC, a medical check found another fracture in the wrist he broke in a fall during the Tour de France last month.
Julich will likely get the wrist into a cast, but said earlier this week he wants to keep racing and is scheduled to race the GP Eddy Merckx later this month. Team CSC said Fränk Schleck is also questionable for the Swiss race, as he has not been able to train in a couple of days due to a knee injury. Replacing Julich in Zürich Metzgete will be Michele Bartoli, who pulled out of the Tour de France with injuries.
Hamilton still unsure about Vuelta
Two days after winning gold in the Olympic time trial, American Tyler Hamilton said he was “50-50” about whether or not he planned on contested September’s Vuelta a España.
Spain’s grand tour had not been part of his original summer schedule, but after crashing out of the Tour he spent part of July scouting out the Vuelta’s key mountain stages.
–Jason Sumner in Athens
Ullrich: ‘Season wasn’t bad’
Defending Olympic champion Jan Ullrich rolled out of Athens without any hardware to show for his efforts. Ullrich fell flat in the road race and the time trial, where he faded against the superior form of Americans Tyler Hamilton and Bobby Julich, and Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov.
In an interview with the German news agency DPA, Ullrich said he was still satisfied with his performance. Here are excerpts from the interview: Question: How deep is your disappointment at missing the coveted gold medal by such a margin?
Ullrich: It is disappointing for me, but the fact that I have previously won an Olympic medal softens the blow a little bit. These will certainly be the last Olympic Games for me, but I already have two Olympic medals – that is okay. Sometimes you win a medal when you are least expecting it, as was the case in Sydney. Sometimes the opposite is the case. I finished seventh (in the time trial) – it is not the end of the world.
Question: You started the race as the favorite, but finished the race down in seventh place. How do you explain this?
Ullrich: The three medal winners have taken it easier over the last few weeks. Tyler Hamilton withdrew from the Tour after 10 days, and the others took a break from competition to focus their preparations on this event. Now we can see that it paid off for them. On the contrary, I have a had a hectic race program since the Tour de France. I battled hard today and gave it everything, but it wasn’t to be. With hindsight I will be wiser.
Question: Was it down to the heat?
Ullrich: No, the heat didn’t bother me at all. But the Tour took a lot out of me, sapped a lot of strength. I knew already after the 12km time check that it was going to be very difficult for me in the time trial.
Question: How do you sum up your season?
Ullrich: My season hasn’t been so bad. Okay, I didn’t make it into the medal places at the Olympic Games, but my participation here hasn’t been a low point of my season. The Games have been a great experience for me. What’s more, the season is far from over.
Question: What other races will you be contesting?
Ullrich: I will be at the start line for the World Cup race in Zürich on Sunday. If I take a break from racing after that, then I will be ready for the world championships in Italy in October. There might be a medal in that for me.
Bettini, Rebellin square off in Zürich
Hot on the heels of his Olympic road race gold medal, Italy’s Paolo Bettini stands a chance of moving into the lead in cycling’s World Cup on Sunday in the Zürich Metzgete race in Switzerland.
But Bettini’s attempt to win a third World Cup in a row could be thwarted by compatriot Davide Rebellin, who is 44 points ahead in the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) cup with 282 points, and third-placed Oscar Freire of Spain.
Both riders are also in the line-up for the 249.9km race in the hilly region near the northeastern Swiss city of Zürich. The T-Mobile team’s strength in the race may conspire against the three World Cup leaders.
Last year’s Metzgete winner, Daniele Nardello, is included in the German team’s line-up for the Zürich race, along with Tour de France runner-up Andreas Klöden of Germany, team leader Jan Ullrich and Russian Alexander Vinokourov, as well as Giuseppe Guerini and Cadel Evans of Australia.
Ullrich has finished second in the Swiss event four times since 1997 and will be motivated to put on a good showing in front of what amounts to his home crowd, since he lives only a few miles away from the 72km course.
The riders face five climbs of the 726-meter Pfannenstiel hill, which should give a small breakaway group a chance to line up for a sprint finish in the city of Zürich.
Thirty-year-old Bettini, who finished third in the Metzegete last year and won in 2001, can also count on help from Quick Step teammates and Swiss residents Laurent Dufaix and Frenchman Richard Virenque.
Italy’s Ivan Basso, who kept pace with Lance Armstrong in the Pyrénées during July’s Tour de France, is also due to start the Swiss event, as well as this week’s Olympic bronze medalist, Belgium’s Axel Merckx, in the road race.
Dutch team Rabobank stalwarts Michael Boogerd and 2001 World Cup winner Erik Dekker are also rated among the favorites by the Zürich organizers. The World Cup winds up with the Paris-Tours race and the Tour of Lombardy, on October 10 and 16 respectively.
– by AFP
Leipheimer auctioning jerseys for animal refuge
Olympian and top Tour De France finisher Levi Leipheimer will be auctioning a jersey signed by the 2004 Rabobank Tour De France team. The jersey includes actual race numbers attached to the pockets and is signed by Michael Boogerd, Bram De Groot, Erik Dekker, Karsten Kroon, Marc Lotz, Grischa Niermann, Mickael Rasmussen, Marc Wauters and Leipheimer. All proceeds will go to the funding of an animal refuge, Freedom Hill, founded by Odessa Gunn and Levi Leipheimer. Gunn has devoted herself to establishing this non-profit organization between episodes of supporting her husband as he trains for races such as the Tour De France and caring for abandoned animals.
For many years, Leipheimer and Gunn have been advocates of animal welfare and donated money to organizations such as PETA and Sonoma County’s Forgotten Felines. They are creating this non-profit animal refuge to have a greater impact on the protection of animals. Auction ends on August 26, 2004 at approximately 14:00 PTD.