Andreas Klöden insists still Beijing-bound

German hasn't closed the door on the Olympics

German rider Andreas Klöden of Astana on Wednesday insisted he was still intent on showing up at the Beijing Games despite previously intimating he would no longer race for his country.

"I am evidently absolutely ready to race for the German federation in Beijing," said the 32-year-old in an email to federation vice-chairman Udo Sprenger.

A report in Tuesday's La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested Klöden had closed the door on riding for the German team at the Olympics. The Italian paper quoted Klöden, currently riding in the Tour of Italy, as saying he wished "to ride two road races" including a time-trial over the summer, but "not for Germany.

In the interview he added: "It can't be done - with Germany it's finished for me."

Federation sporting director Burckhard Bremer said he believed Klöden was still a possible candidate for the Olympic squad. In his message to Sprenger, Klöden said he was simply criticising the way the German media addressed doping in his sport.

The veteran spent the bulk of his career to date with Telekom, then T-Mobile, after debuting in 1998, but eight years later he jumped ship and in 2007 his team folded amid a storm over doping allegations in Germany shrouding the team and its stars - though he has always insisted he is clean.

Twice runner-up in the Tour de France, Klöden joined Astana in late 2006 but the team have not been invited to this summer's Tour.

Klöden has been accused, notably by German performance enhancing drugs expert Werner Franke, of blood doping in the 2006 Tour. He lives in Switzerland near friend and former teammate Jan Ullrich.

© AFP 2008

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