Snowbird Ullrich heads south to keep training, McEwen still feeling effects of weekend crash, anothe
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T-Mobile team leader Jan Ullrich is currently in Tuscany preparing for his first races of the 2006 season. “I finished a good training camp in South Africa in February and now I’m back in intensive training to build up my form,” says Ullrich, who has been accompanied to Italy by T-Mobile sporting director Rudy Pevenage, and his physio Birgit Krohme. “It is dry here and with temperatures around the 15ø Celsius mark, we’ve been able to go ahead with the training programme as planned,” says Pevenage, who drove Ullrich out of the snow-hit Alps so that he could continue his training unhindered by climactic conditions.
– Robbie McEwen is still feeling the effects of last weekend’s final stage crash at the Three Days of West Flanders during Tirreno-Adriatico this week. “I’ve been really suffering, particularly with my hip, thigh and ribs, I don’t feel good at all,” he told La Dernire Heure on Friday. “I can’t pull on the bars and, more than anything, I can’t breathe freely. When the pace goes up towards the end of stages I’m having real problems staying in touch. I’m not sure I could even sprint on the flat.”
The Australian has been told that he could do with six weeks off, particularly to rest his damaged ribs, but the Davitamon-Lotto sprinter is refusing to accept that advice with Milan-San Remo not much more than a week away. His team boss, Marc Sergeant, is confident McEwen will be fit to pit himself against the best in the first Classic of the season next weekend. “I will tell you one thing – if there is one Classic for which there is no need to motivate McEwen it’s Milan-San Remo,” said Sergeant, who said there was no question of Peter van Petegem being drafted in to replace McEwen as team leader for la Classicissima.
– That crash involving McEwen also sidelined CSC’s Matti Breschel for some weeks, and the Danish team’s run of bad luck with injuries continued at Thursday’s second stage of Tirreno, where Stuart O’Grady crashed on a descent and was taken to the hospital with a broken collar-bone and five broken ribs.
“Stuart was very unlucky and hit a hole in the road on one of the descents. It’s not a complicated fracture in his collar-bone, but he’s obviously in a lot of pain right now. If we are optimistic, he could be ready in four weeks, and because it’s not so complicated he might be able to resume his training in a couple of weeks,” said CSC team doctor Joost de Maeseneer.
– World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound and UCI vice-president Hein Verbruggen have made moves to patch up their differences following a fall-out over the recent Lance Armstrong/L’Equipe EPO furore. The pair announced on Thursday they had taken advantage of their presence at the Olympic Winter Games in Turin to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Pound also accepted that, contrary to public statements he made in September last year, it was not Verbruggen who provided any copy of doping control forms signed by Lance Armstrong during the 1999 Tour de France to L’Equipe.
It was also announced that Pound is willing to accept an invitation to visit the UCI’s Swiss headquarters in the near future to acquaint himself with the efforts made by the UCI in doping matters and to explore the potential for further and closer cooperation in the future.