By Andrew Hood
After being overlooked for the Tour de France by his Telekom team, American Bobby Julich will now prepare for September’s Vuelta a España and October’s world championships.
“Bobby’s plan now is to come back to the U.S. to do some high altitude training during July, then have a great Vuelta and world championships at the end of the season,” read an entry on Julich’s official web page.
Telekom will be anchored by sprinting ace Erik Zabel and three riders with eyes on the final podium: Santiago Botero, Alexandre Vinokourov and Paolo Savoldelli. Rounding out the team are Rolf Aldag, Matthias Kessler and Andreas Klöden (G), Mario Aerts (B) and Daniele Nardello (I).
Julich will miss the Tour for the first time since his 1997 debut. Telekom team officials said the selection process was difficult.
“I would call this the most difficult selection procedure ever for team,” said Telekom team spokesman Luuc Eisenga. “We have chosen nine riders of which we think are the best.”
Ullrich says ‘next year’
German star Jan Ullrich said he wants to win the Tour de France again, but admits it likely won’t be this year.
The 1997 Tour winner is the only rider that four-time winner Lance Armstrong says gives him a fright. Ullrich will be back at the Tour after missing last year’s race with knee injuries, but says he won’t be strong enough to take on the Texan.
“My hope is that this duel will take place again someday, but I highly doubt that it will be this year,” Ullrich told the German news agency SID. “To take on Armstrong, I would need a perfect preparation. I didn’t have one. I will be very satisfied with a stage victory.”
Ullrich finished seventh at the Tour de Suisse, 2 minutes, 27 seconds behind winner Alexandre Vinokourov and finished third in the final time trial. The Olympic road champion said he was satisfied with how he felt.
“The Tour of Switzerland was purely a preparation race for the Tour de France. My progression from my form compared to the Tour of Germany was positive,” he said.
Ullrich also said he likely won’t be racing in the German national road championships so he can witness the birth of his first baby.
Longo wins yet another national title
Jeannie Longo just keeps on truckin’. The 44-year-old veteran won her 47th French national title after winning Thursday’s individual time trial in Plumelec. Longo, the winningest racer in cycling history, finished 16 seconds ahead of Edwige Pitel to add the title to her mantelpiece that already includes 46 national championships trophies in all disciplines during her long career.
French women’s national time trial
1. Jeannie Longo, 25km in 39:44 (37.737 kph)
2. Edwige Pitel, at 0:16
3. Sonia Huguet, at 0:45
4. Juliette Vanderckhove, at 1:02
5. Virginie Moinard, at 1:16
Cipo’s last gasp
Mario Cipollini’s Domina Vacanze team refuses to give up on entering the Tour de France, which starts next Saturday in Paris. The Italian team announced the UCI will review its exclusion from the 2003 Tour at an arbitration hearing set for Friday.
The team sent out a press release calling its omission from the Tour “unjust” and said it believes that review of UCI rules outlining team selection for grand tours will reveal a “violation” of the criteria.
Cipollini was outraged when the Tour left his team out of the 90th Tour when the final four “wild card” teams were selected in mid-May. Cipollini broke the all-time stage victory record at the Giro d’Italia before abandoning after crashing.