CSC boss Bjarne Riis says he thinks Jan Ullrich is still Ivan Basso’s main rival for the Tour de Fra
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CSC team manager Bjarne Riis’ comments on Jan Ullrich’s form being “catastrophic” after he and Ivan Basso coincidentally crossed paths with the German while out training in Tuscany recently has obviously only made interest in a more elaborate assessment of Ullrich increase. On Thursday, Riis provided that assessment, and the grades he gave his former team-mate were not exactly overwhelming, writes Susanne Horsdal.
“I really don’t know if it’s possible for Jan to get back to the level he had when he won the Tour 10 years ago,” Riis said at a press conference in Belgium on Thursday. “Normally I would say ‘yes’, but after the past couple of years and the way he is today I don’t think so. What I would like to see is Jan really wanting to ride, to be serious,” continued the Dane, who added that the biggest difference between Lance Armstrong and Ullrich in the past few years was the head. “Lance wasn’t stronger, he was more clever,” said Riis.
Armstrong certainly was a master at playing mind games, but the CSC manager had difficulty assessing how much the many defeats had affected Ullrich mentally.
“I really don’t know, and maybe he was satisfied with second. After all he’s been on the podium five times (plus the victory in 1997), and hey, that’s pretty good,” admitted Riis, who still considers the German one of Basso’s main rivals for the Tour provided that Ullrich does get in shape on time.
“He’s one of the biggest talents in cycling. It’s just a pity he’s not here to ride at the moment,” said Riis.