Ullrich tipped for TT gold by VinoClose
He may have failed to defend his Olympic road race title, but Jan Ullrich is heavily tipped to win tPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Looking leaner than he did in France a few weeks ago, Jan Ullrich, accompanied by T-Mobile and German national team directeur, Mario Kummer, rode over the Olympic time trial course this morning. Also present was the former Olympic champion's constant aide and physiotherapist, Birgit Kroehme. There was no sign of his personal coach, Rudy Pevenage, however. "I've recovered well from the race on Saturday," Ullrich told procycling, as he posed obligingly for pictures with German tourists. "These are fast roads and I think the course suits me well, but the biggest problem is the wind off the coast. If the wind blows it could change things with equipment." Touted by his T-Mobile team mate, Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov, as the favourite for gold, Ullrich responded by saying, "It's not that easy! There are a lot of other time triallists here who have prepared very well," he said, "and you can't compare this to a time trial in the Tour de France. But of course this is important, it really means something to me." Ullrich, at 17th, the rider with the highest UCI ranking on the time trial start line, claimed to be enjoying life in the Olympic village. "I like being here in Athens," he said. "I'm staying in the Olympic village and I've met a lot of other athletes. But professional cyclists don't experience the Olympic Games like amateurs. After the race tomorrow, we're already going home." Among those other time triallists, likely to flourish on a relatively technically undemanding course are Fabian Cancellara, winner of this year's Tour de France prologue and world-time-trial-champion-in-waiting (pending UCI confirmation of David Millar's final loss of his title) Michael Rogers of Australia. "I am here to get a medal," said Cancellara. "I'm not on holiday. But a time trial like this is totally different to a prologue and I think there are a lot of candidates for victory." Tucked away in the field, is Victor Hugo Pe¤a, yellow jersey wearer in the 2003 Tour de France, but absent from this year's race. The Colombian was omitted from Lance Armstrong's US Postal team for last July's Tour. "I still don't know why I wasn't selected, but next year I probably won't be with Armstrong in the new team. I'm negotiating with other teams," said the Colombian. That in itself makes a good Olympic result of paramount importance for Pe¤a. "I want to get a medal and finish in the first three," said Pe¤a. "It will be difficult with all these specialists but I'll go for it."