By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2003
Jan Ullrich will top the bill when Bianchi, his third team in a year, stages its team presentation in Dresden on the eve of the Tour of Germany next Monday.
Ullrich’s new sponsor stepped in to replace Team Coast, recently banned by the sport’s ruling body. The new Bianchi squad will make its Tour de France debut with the reigning Olympic champion in July.
However, Bianchi’s general manager Jacques Hanegraaf, said the team could be forced to don drab neutral jerseys for a one-day race on Saturday, then the German showpiece on Tuesday, if the new jerseys are not ready in time.
“They should be ready between now and then,” said the former Dutch professional, who saw his team registered on Friday by the UCI, a pre-requisite for entry to this year’s centenary Tour.
“But if they’re not we’ll just have to wear neutral jerseys.” Ullrich’s involvement in this year’s Tour has added much needed spice to a race that has been dominated by American Lance Armstrong for the past four years. Ullrich won the Tour in 1997 and has finished runner-up an impressive four times. The 29-year-old German – who left Telekom last autumn – is still considered the 31-year-old U.S. Postal rider’s main rival for the world’s toughest bike race.
Ullrich, who joined Team Coast two months ago only to see the German outfit hit financial difficulties, is said to be “very motivated” to get back to top form and will take part in the 188.7km one-day race near Erfurt (in eastern Germany) on Saturday before embarking on the Tour of Germany next Tuesday.
“Jan has been training and he’s very motivated,” added Hanegraaf.