Both Jan Ullrich and T-Mobile were today keen to play down the significance of "Der Kaiser's" decisiPIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Another year, another cycling season, yet another stuttering start for Jan Ullrich. With the punctuality of a watch hand-crafted in his adopted Swiss homeland, Ullrich has announced that illness has forced him to postpone his 2005 season's dbut. Instead of beginning his campaign at the Tour of Murcia from March 2-6, T-Mobile's "Kaiser" will now embark on a further month of training before competing at the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe from April 3-8. Ullrich had been putting in the miles in Lucca in Tuscany, but the combination of a bad cold and snow have forced him to head home to Scherzingen, Switzerland. The German will return to Tuscany on Sunday with coach Rudy Pevenage for three more weeks of intensive training. "I couldn't ride myself into form as had been my original intention," said Ullrich of his efforts to recoup lost time over the past week. "I don't want to repeat the mistakes I made last year, when I let my own misguided ambition suck me into racing. Anyone who wants to debate or criticise my late start to the season should note that people have different objectives. For grand tour riders who are already fit, it's very hard to look beyond the Tour de France." Although Ullrich's attempts at self-justification probably won't silence his many critics, the German had already got some more convincing excuses in early at the T-Mobile training camp in January. Speaking to procycling in Majorca, Ullrich suggested that his decision to ride the Tours of Valencia and Murcia when patently unfit had contributed to his worst ever Tour de France finish (fourth) in 2004. "I wasn't fit enough to ride those races," Ullrich said. "When you're not fit enough, you're only ever riding in the red zone and you just get worse. You then need another training phase dedicated to building up your base stamina before you can up the intensity again. That was my handicap last year. In May I said to myself that enough was enough and decided to just train for five weeks. I have learnt my lesson. If I am not ready to ride the Tour of Murcia, then I simply won't ride it. I would only be damaging myself if I still wasn't good enough to compete." Ullrich also claimed that, far from perennially repeating old mistakes, at 31 he is finally learning to adapt his training to his body's changing needs. "Had I trained like I do now over the past eight years, I would have won another Tour de France by a big margin," he said. "I can see how my body is ageing. I have to train a lot more and more constructively, and pay a lot more attention to my diet to hit top form. But the form lasts much longer. When I was younger I would come into form after three weeks of training, whereas now I need three months. Now, though, when I am in form I can hold it for much longer."