By Andrew Hood
Just moments after finishing second in Sunday’s Championship of Zürich, Bianchi’s Jan Ullrich said he won’t be starting next month’s Vuelta a España. The 29-year-old German was expected to start the Vuelta, but will instead prepare for the world championships.
Vuelta officials announced earlier that Ullrich was likely to start the season’s last grand tour (Sept. 6-28), but Ullrich said Sunday he will train at home as well as race the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt (Sept. 17-21) in Germany to prepare for the worlds in Hamilton, Canada.
“The Spanish tour would make excessive demands of me after the long season,” Ullrich wrote on his official web page. “In addition, I do not want to be apart from my girlfriend and baby for three weeks again.” Ullrich won the Vuelta in 1999 before winning the world time trial title that year in Treviso, Italy. Ullrich won the world time trial title again in 2001 and will race in both the road race and time trial in Canada.
World rankings as of Monday, August 18, 2003:
1. Paolo Bettini (I) – 2358 points
2. Erik Zabel (G) – 2047
3. Gilberto Simoni (I) – 1997
4. Davide Rebellin (I) – 1905
5. Iban Mayo (Sp) – 1735
6. Alessandro Petacchi (I) – 1727
7. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) – 1726
8. Lance Armstrong (USA) – 1558
9. Francesco Casagrande (I) – 1421
10. Tyler Hamilton (USA) – 1403
11. Robbie McEwen (Aus) – 1364
12. Jan Ullrich (G) – 1234
13. Danilo Di Luca (I) – 1203
14. Aitor Gonzalez (Sp) – 1199
15. Michael Boogerd (Nl) – 1151
16. Dario Frigo (I) – 1145
17. Baden Cooke (Aus) – 1113
18. Mario Cipollini (I) – 1103
19. Roberto Heras (Sp) – 1085
20. Michele Bartoli (I) – 1025
21. Laurent Brochard (F) – 1005
22. Stefano Garzeli (I) – 996
23. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) – 973
24. Joseba Beloki (Sp) – 902
25. Francisco Mancebo (Sp) – 880
1. Fassa Bortolo (I) – 6729
2. Quick Step (B) – 6551
3. Saeco (I) – 6476
4. Telekom (G) – 6312
5. Gerolsteiner (G) – 4649
6. ibanesto.com (Sp) – 4636
7. CSC (Dk) – 4497
8. Rabobank (Nl) – 4318
9. Euskaltel (Sp) – 4314
10. U.S. Postal (USA) – 4065
Julich on target for Vuelta, worlds
American Bobby Julich had another strong ride Sunday for his Telekom team, helping teammate Daniele Nardello win the Championship of Zurich.
Julich has had a strong and consistent season, but was left off Telekom’s Tour de France team, the first time the 31-year-old missed the Tour since his impressive 1997 Tour debut.
After spending much of July training at altitude in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Julich returned to racing in late July at the Tour of the Region Wallonne and finished seventh in last Thursday’s ITT at the Tour of Burgos.
Up next for Julich is the GP Schwarzwald (UCI 1.3), a one-day German race in the Black Forest on Aug. 24, and then the Vuelta a España. Julich also wrote on his web page he hopes to race at the Hamilton world championships.
“I always had a ‘plan B’ in the works and now I am going to run with it,” Julich wrote on his web page about his new enthusiasm for the Vuelta and the worlds. “The last six years after doing the Tour, I have ended my season early and these races haven’t even been an option, so I am looking forward to these new races and challenges. There is plenty of racing after the Tour and I want to do some great rides and have fun.”
Julich wrote that he initially disappointed he missed the Tour, he quickly readjusted his attitude and enjoyed training back in the States. He says he returns to Europe with new motivation.
“I am super motivated for these races and really looking forward to being a part of them. With every disappointment, I feel that if you pull back and refocus instead of stressing about what could have been, you will be the better for it,” Julich continued. “After all, life is full of ups and downs and it is how you deal with the downs that defines your character.”
Somarriba eyes Athens after third Tour victory
Joane Somarriba is on top of the world after winning a record-tying third Tour Feminine on Sunday. After entering the Grande Boucle Feminin’s “three-win” club, Somarriba will get an audience with Spain’s King Juan Carlos.
The Spanish racer said her third victory was “more comfortable” that she could have hoped for.
“I don’t know it was more complicated or easier than my two previous victories, but it has been more comfortable than I had expected,” said Somarriba, who sewed up final victory Sunday in the Grande Boucle Feminin. “I expected to have more opposition from Nicole Brandli or from Fabiana Luperini.”
Somarriba’s victory equals the mark of three wins held by Luperini (1996-98) and Jeannie Longo (1987-89). Somarriba won in 2000 and 2001, but nearly didn’t race this year because she couldn’t find a team until late this spring.
She wasn’t expected to fight for the spoils, but was stronger than expected in the mountains and held off Brandli, who finished second overall at 2:29 in arrears. Judith Arndt claimed the final podium spot at 5:05 back.
“The key to everything was what happened in the Alps. The situation was a lot clearer than we could have hoped for and from then on I controlled things well,” she told the Spanish daily MARCA.
Somarriba says now she will turn her attention to preparing for the 2004 Summer Games.
“I have fulfilled my objective and that was to return to the win the Tour once again, even though I am now in this three-win club,” she said. “I’m not obsessed with breaking records, so now I want to shine in the Olympics and from now on I am going to start to focus all of my preparation on them.”
Rogers previews Athens course
Michael Rogers took a break from racing to preview the road and time trial courses that will be featured in next year’s Summer Olympic Games in Athens. Rogers traveled last weekend with officials from the Australian national team to get an early look at what he’ll be facing next summer.
“I think it was very important for me to come to Athens and view the races,” said Rogers, who previewed the time trial course Friday and the road course Saturday. “The Olympics are one of my objectives for next season. I really would love to do well at them and leave my mark.”
Virenque extends, Dufaux signs with Quick Step
Quick Step officials confirmed earlier reports that Laurent Dufaux will rejoin his former Festina teammate Richard Virenque for the 2004 season. The team also officially announced Virenque will be back again for the Belgian lineup.
“I am very happy to be able to ride once again for this team that has proved in these last few months to be a united and winning group; a team that supported me fantastically during the Tour of France,” said Virenque in a team comminque. “I still haven’t decided if 2004 will be my last season. As long as I am enthusiastic and get good results I’m sure I’ll carry on. Next year I would like to be in perfect condition for the Tour and, why not, take part in the Olympics, a race that I have already taken part in twice.”
Portugal tour winner overjoyed
Portugal’s Nuno Ribeiro won the Tour of Portugal cycling race on Sunday, holding on to the lead he seized in the devastating ninth stage which finished at Mondim de Basto.
The 25-year-old rider ended the 11-day race in 41 hours 29 minutes 59 seconds, one minute seven seconds ahead of last year’s winner Claus Moller of Denmark. Ribeiro’s victory is a huge boost for LA Pecol, which upset Portuguese powerhouse Milaneza-MSS.
“I don’t have words to describe the joy going through my soul because of this victory,” Ribeiro told reporters.
Ribeiro, who turned professional three years ago, went into Sunday’s time trial with a one minute 35 second advantage having taken command of the race on the steep climb at Mondim de Basto.
With top foreign riders staying away, Portuguese cyclists took seven of the top 10 spots. A total of 105 riders finished out of the 130 in the starting field in the 1,656 km race. – Reuters