Jan, you opted for abandoning the Giro on stage 18. Why?
I would have liked to ride it through to Milan. However, Friday’s stage was brutally tough. Rudy Pevenage and I agreed
already a couple of days ago not to do the final two stages any more. So the plan was to abandon on Thursday. But after Thursday’s
shock, when my name was mentioned in the context of the anti-doping operation in Spain, it would have looked ill-timed. Besides,
I felt quite good in the morning and decided to continue. But as the stage progressed, my back started to hurt. As a consequence,
I called it quits – and now I’m glad I did.
You just touched on this: A Spanish radio station
brought up allegations that you were in contact with the doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who was arrested on Wednesday. What do
you say about that?
Ullrich: I’ve been working together with the Italian Luigi Cecchini
for several years now. The names mentioned in the context of the anti-doping operation are not known to me. I learnt about
the whole thing shortly before the stage finish on Thursday. Rudy Pevenage told me about it on the radio. Frankly speaking,
I think it’s a travesty to link my name with this thing. I never worked with Fuentes and I have nothing to blame myself
for. It’s a sad issue, which is not limited to cycling only. Supposedly, there are other sports involved, too.
your personal assessment of the Giro?
Ullrich: It was a very good Giro for me. I won the
time trial, which I never expected. And I didn’t just roll along, but tried to get involved in the action. For example,
on Thursday’s stage 17 my plan was to be in a lead group. Unfortunately, I was reeled in each time. Most likely, because
my name is Jan Ullrich. (laughs). Overall I was able to further build up my form. I’m very content with the result.
In what department do you think you can still improve with regards to the Tour de France?
My right leg is currently weaker than my left one. That’s what causes the back pain. So I have to work on that.
I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable in the mountains. I will continue to build up my form in the next weeks, by
reconnoitring some tough Tour stages and doing the Vuelta Ciclista Asturias. I will sharpen my form for the Tour and hope
I will put in a good performance in July.
Ivan Basso is in impressive form at the Giro d’Italia –
what do you say about his dominance?
Ullrich: He makes a strong impression. And his CSC
team is well-balanced. Ivan is on top of his game. However, I don’t think he will win the Tour. The competition is Italy
is distinctively weaker than the one in France. And I want to have a say in it, too. (laughs)
How do you assess
your form compared to 2001, when you also rode the Giro?
Ullrich: This year things went
better than in 2001. Back then I started out sick and struggled on the first stages. This year I won the time trial and was
active. I felt very comfortable at the Giro.
The German Stefan Schumacher took his second stage win on Thursday.
How do you assess his performance?
Ullrich: He showed a very strong performance here and
won the stages deservedly and in style. He’s a big talent. On Thursday he was lucky to get away on the descent. For
Stefan this was a very successful Giro.
Source: T-Mobile team