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T-Mobile team manager Olaf Ludwig has denied reports in the German press that there is a clause in Jan Ullrich's contract detailing financial repercussions that will be taken against the 1997 Tour de France winner if he turns up at the start of his racing season in March more than seven kilos over his optimum racing weight of 72kg. Ludwig told the Hamburger Abendblatt that there is nothing written down in Ullrich's contract about his weight, which has often ballooned during the off-season, leaving him struggling to gain racing speed in the approach to the Tour.
"It is crucial that he starts the season with optimal form, and naturally we want riders to be a certain weight in January," said Ludwig. Ullrich's pre-season training began last week in the sun and warmth of South Africa.
- Currently overseeing the construction of his new home in Kelowna, British Colombia, new Phonak signing Axel Merckx has also started his preparation for a season when he is planning to ride both the Giro and Tour de France. "For the first time I will be doubling up with the Giro and the Tour if all goes well," he told La Dernire Heure. "I have seen the route for the Giro, which seems very hard, but the start being in Wallonia will be something special for us Belgians. I am looking forward to riding the Giro again and would like to win a stage there."
Merckx is set to return to his European home in Monaco in early January, just before his new team's training camp in Majorca, which starts on January 9.
- Australian track star Rochelle Gilmore has set what is believed to be a new record speed for a woman riding behind a derny. Gilmore averaged 66kph for a lap of Sydney's Dunc Gray Velodrome, peaking at 70kph in the straight. "I am happy with that but believe I can go faster on a higher gear," Gilmore told The Advertiser newspaper. "Hitting 70kph at one stage will give her opponents something to think about," said her coach, Gary Sutton.
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