Shorts: Ullrich, Simoni, Gusev

Ullrich opts for Swiss defence, Simoni gets pre-Giro boost in the Appenines, CSC's Gusev joins a lis

Ullrich opts for Swiss defence, Simoni gets pre-Giro boost in the Appenines, CSC's Gusev joins a lis

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Jan Ullrich has opted to defend his Tour of Switzerland (June 11-19) title rather than take on what could well be a trickier route into the Tour de France via the Dauphin Libr. "The Tour of Switzerland is one of my favourite races," said Ullrich, who is currently training at home in Switzerland. T-Mobile's Dauphin team is likely to be led by Lige winner Alexandre Vinokourov.

- Gilberto Simoni received a timely boost in his preparation for the Giro d'Italia when he took the Tour of the Appenines title on Sunday. It was the Italian's second win of the season following a stage victory in March at Paris-Nice. Last year's race was won by Simoni's team-mate Damiano Cunego, and for the moment the pair look the strongest riders going into the Giro on May 7.

1 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 198km in 4.51.27 (40.76kph)
2 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Panaria
3 Przemyslaw Niemec (Pol) Miche
4 Raffaele Ferrara (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Panaria 0.02
6 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) Naturino 0.10
7 Marco Osella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
8 Andrea No (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.11
9 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) LPR
10 Miha Svab (Slo) Krka

- According to the CSC website, Vladimir Gusev put himself in amongst some very illustrious names indeed when he became the fourth youngest rider in history to finish all seven spring Classics (Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, Flche Wallonne and Lige-Bastogne-Lige). "Vladimir is very young, but he's already proven he can do the Classics and he's shown his quality," said CSC team manager Bjarne Riis. "He's one of the riders everyone will be writing stories about in 10 years. Maybe sooner with him."

The 22 year old Russian finished 10th and 12th respectively in Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, even though he crashed twice in Roubaix. "I love racing on the cobblestones. It's very difficult and very demanding. It requires concentration at all times. You cannot be out of position and miss the move. One day I will win Paris-Roubaix," says Gusev.

The youngest riders to complete the seven spring Classics are:

1. Eddy Merckx, 21 years and 10 months
2. Freddy Maertens, 22 years and 2 months
3. Dietrich Thurau, 22 years and 5 months
4. Vladimir Gusev, 22 years and 9 months
5. Adrie van der Poel, 23 years and 10 months

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