Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"We are counting down to Paris and Ullrich is not yet out of the running," Ullrich said, uncharacteristically referring to himself in the third person. 3 April 2006 Velonews Eurofile.

While the latest news of a recurring pain in Jan Ullrich's once-injured knee unsettles our potential plans to watch May's Giro as we lounge in the Italian Alps, Ullrich still maintains that Ullrich himself will be riding laps on the Champs-Élysées come July. A literary scholar might read his most recent remarks as showing an ethereal claim on Parisian victory--a consciousness stepping beyond the body to express assurance that Jan will indeed hold a place on the podium. But we here at Dotde are a little skeptical about this view: too many athletes tend to talk of themselves in the third person to make this unique. Too many of these athletes are also, well, crazy. With such stars like Casey Stengal and Ricky Henderson, once the media actually notices the habit it's usually a sign of physical or mental deterioration. Reporters stop caring about what someone says and start caring about how they say it when, it seems, there's nothing really to report. But we don't have pressures to just fill space here on Dotde, given our small but steady base of readers (miss you Mom and Dad!).

So despite the negative reports flying through the German press and the negative attitudes of most cycling fans I meet here in D-land, we're still dedicated in our support this magentic rider. Our humble weblog's opinion on Ullrich's bowing out of le Circuit de la Sarthe is that this maneuver is purely strategic. Three cycling juggernauts (and Tour favorites) are already showing that they're prepared to dominate the seventh month. American Floyd Landis of Phonak took the inaugural Tour of California and the 64th Paris Nice, Kazakh legend Alexander Vinokourov of Liberty Seguros-Wurth swiped the 21st Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, and Italian Ivan Basso of CSC eased his way onto the top podium spot of the Criterium International.

Sprinters Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Stuart O'Grady (CSC) are also making noise, though it'd be miraculous if they ended in most-mattered yellow (green would be a pleasure for them). Ineligible Tyler Hamilton is even trying to get into the action with thwarted attempts to race a few on the sly. So with Armstrong gone, everyone's wanting to make some early season noise--noise that in had been quelled in past years by remarks such as "Yeah, have your fun now. But it's Lance in France."

Nonetheless, Ullrich's displaying a season-long strategic side that pairs his consummate (if not frightening) poker face on the bike. And this is one more reason why D and I will be holding magenta mimosas in Paris come July 23rd. Jan has a ace he can play all season (past premonition: remember Armstrong's rope-a-dope on 2001's L'Alpe d'Huez?) While every other big rider dances the "Look at Me!" jig, Jan's the only one saying "Ullrich will see you on the slopes."


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