Shorts: Merckx, Jan, Leblanc

Helmet rule condemns Merckx and Vansummeren, Ullrich not yet planning on Dauphine ride, Leblanc drop

Helmet rule condemns Merckx and Vansummeren, Ullrich not yet planning on Dauphine ride, Leblanc drop
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Axel Merckx and Johan Van Summeren were expelled from Paris-Nice last night after flouting the new but apparently little known UCI rule stipulating that helmets must be worn at all times. The Belgian pair, who both ride for Davitamon-Lotto, removed their helmets as they began the climb to Mont Faron. *T-Mobile have refuted reports that Jan Ullrich intends to ride June's Dauphin Libr stage race. "Jan will ride the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Tour of Aragon," said team spokesperson Luuc Eisenga. "I can say that Jan's programme is not confirmed, that nothing is defined yet. It is too premature to talk about racing in June, when we are only in March." Ullrich may face a tricky decision, though; the Tour of Switzerland, one of his preferred June warm-ups, clashes with the ProTour time trial in Eindhoven, and the other possibility, the Deutschland Tour, has now been moved to August. * Jean-Marie Leblanc was on Paris-Nice for the first and only time this year, mentoring race Tour de France director-in-waiting Christian Prudhomme as he took the reigns of the 'race to the sun'. Standing among the crowd at the foot of the Mont Faron podium, Leblanc told procycling, "I'm here for one day as a guest - as a VIP!" "Christian will be director on a lot of races this year," explained Leblanc. "I'm not working on the Tour of Picardie, the Tour de l'Avenir. but I will be at the Tour de France. And after 2007 I stop completely. I've been in cycling for 40 years - there are plenty of other things in life." But there will be a few final hurrahs in Leblanc's twilight years, including the highly probable visit of the Tour de France to London in 2007. "To start the race in the heart of London will be - 'ow you say - amazing, incredible." But with a wry smile Leblanc refused to commit himself to the certainty of a London start, perhaps because he is caught in the middle of the rivalry between London and Paris to win over the International Olympic Commitee. "Nothing will be announced before the selection of the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games, but we will make a statement probably in the autumn, but certainly before the end of 2005."
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