Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Breaking Faking News: Ullrich To Race For American Team

In a bold move to continue his career as a competitive cyclist, embattled 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has signed a contract to race for the Cow Town Cycling Club of Greeley, Colorado. The signing was made possible after the disgraced rider was kicked out of the 2006 Tour de France and fired from his former T-Mobile team as a result of alleged links to the Operacion Puerto doping scandal in Spain. A series of recent negotiations with numerous professional teams failed to result in a contract to race in Europe in 2007, leaving the German few employment options and opening the door for the small regional club from northern Colorado to make an offer. Despite the lack of a salary or even a bicycle in the deal, Ullrich was upbeat as he spoke to the press through his interpreter.

"I am very excited to race in America" Ullrich stated at a press conference held in the lobby of a local meat packing facility that sponsors the team and employs a number of riders.

"The Cow Town Cycling Club has openly declared that I am the leader and they will work for me in the races, which is something the other professional teams were not willing to offer. Well...that and a contract" the former World and Olympic champion confirmed. "Sure, none of us are getting paid and most of my teammates are beginner or Category 4 racers, but we have a cool jersey with a funny picture of a cow on it and I'm pretty sure the local bike shop will give us a discount on tires and stuff. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice."

When asked about his dismissal from the 2006 Tour de France and subsequent firing from the T-Mobile squad, Ullrich heeded the advice of his new mentor and strength coach, former MLB slugger Mark McGwire by stating "I don't want to talk about the past. I have never tested positive for a banned substance, well...except the Ecstasy a few years back. But I served my suspension and have not been arrested yet for all of the sporting fraud charges being brought against me in Germany. So basically...I'm ready to start racing again."

On the topic of retaining McGwire as his strength coach, Ullrich was somewhat reserved. "I know there are some people that question my relationship with Mark McGwire but I can tell you that he is a great coach. And man is that guy strong. Like freakishly strong. The other day after my interval training, he said I didn't generate enough power so he grabbed my bike and just broke it in half with his bare hands. I mean, this is military grade carbon fiber we're talking about and he just snapped it like a twig. It's almost like he's taken steroids or something. Wait...forget I said that."

When questioned about his 2007 racing schedule, Ullrich was realistic about his chances of racing in many European Pro Tour events. "While it is unfortunate that the Cow Town Cycling Club will not likely be selected to race in the Tour de France or Giro d' Italia this year, there are some good quality events in Northern Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas. "

Among the German's top priorities are the weekly Tuesday Night Meade Raceway Criterium Series and the Cheyenne-Fort Collins Road Race which usually attracts two or three local professionals from Boulder due to its prize of $250 for the winner and a $50 gift certificate to Chili's for second place. "I want to win that race for sure, but I really like the Awesome Blossom at Chili's so second wouldn't be all that bad" stated the man who many have called the most talented cyclist on the planet.

After undergoing a battery of tests measuring everything from blood hematocrit levels to VO2 max, Ullrich was cleared by Dr. Rocky Wilson to race for the Cow Town Cycling Club under the condition that the German would make himself available for random testing at any time.

Dr. Wilson addressed the on-going concerns regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs by stating, "Mr. Ullrich seems to be clean and in good health right now but here in Greeley we have a huge amount of crude steroids that we use on our livestock and I have to think that the temptation to shoot a little bovine testosterone might be too much for this guy to resist. I mean...he's a former Tour de France winner for crying out loud. You know he's good with needles."

Despite his current involvement in the Operacion Puerto scandal, Ullrich's current contract with the Cow Town Cycling Club will include three team jerseys, a water bottle and a 50% reimbursement on race entry fees for 2007.

Ullrich explained "I was making close to 3 million Euros per year with T-Mobile, but I understand that the Cow Town Cycling Club's budget is a bit smaller than that of a huge, billion dollar international corporation. With that in mind, I felt the jersey and water bottle deal was fair. The icing on the cake was when they threw in the 50% race entry fee reimbursement. Talk about a deal closer. By the end of the season I could be looking at $500. That's no joke right there."

When asked about the inclusion of Jan Ullrich on the Cow Town Cycling Club roster, Team Manager Randy Jamison expressed his ambitions for the upcoming year, "When you can add a multiple Grand Tour winner, Olympic and World Champion to your roster the expectations can change a little bit. Our guys are ready for the challenge of helping Jan win some big races. Well...maybe not that big, but we should definitely be able to dominate the local training rides and time trials in Greeley now."

Ullrich's season officially begins in early March with the Anderson Dairy Criterium in Lymon, Colorado.