German cyclist Jan Ullrich will be back in the saddle at the Giro d'Italia in May, but just to tune-up for the Tour de France in July.
Ullrich, touted by Lance Armstrong as the best candidate to win this year's Tour de France, was said to be in outstanding shape when he arrived at the T-Mobile camp this spring, but has yet to race.
BBC says Ullrich, 32, will begin his season at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France on April 4-7. (Scratch that – “Ullrich to skip Sarthe, return in Romandy,” Tour de France blog, March 29, 2006.) As for the Giro: “I'll be testing my legs on a few stages. I will not be concentrating on the GC however.”
Ullrich won the Tour in 1997, but things went kaput after that. He finished on the Tour podium five times after that, but between 1999 and 2005 the top step was occupied by Armstrong.
Ullrich finished third last year, behind Team CSC's Ivan Basso. He later lost the Tour of Germany to US cyclist Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner).
By the way, where is Basso? He raced in the Tirreno-Adriatico recently, and has announced for home country's Giro d'Italia as well, where Pez Cycling says Basso plans to compete for general classification.