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Tour de France News for June 1, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

The Giro wants Lance

Perhaps finding encouragement in the fact that defending Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong took a trip to Italy to test himself on the dreaded Mortirolo climb, incoming Giro d'Italia organiser Angelo Zomegnan issued an open call for the American to race the Giro next season.

"I think a champion like him can't consider retiring without having raced the Giro d'Italia," said Zomegnan, who has been tipped to take over the direction of the race when current Giro boss Carmine Castellano retires.

"Next year there will also be a sentimental reason to have Armstrong at the Giro," he added. "We'll be commemorating the 10th anniversary of the death of Fabio Casartelli. The Giro is waiting for Armstrong."

The return of Der Kaiser?

Getting serious
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After a confidence-boosting fifth place in this weekend's TEAG Rund um die Hainleite, Jan Ullrich marked another return to form with a second place in the opening time trial of the Tour of Germany on Monday. Ullrich has spent the past five weeks training out of competition, evidently to good effect. Dogged by his usual weight problems this spring, the T-Mobile star believes his body is responding well.

"My form is getting better," he said after the stage. "The bad weight is gone, the good weight has stayed."

Ullrich also promised that he will be looking for stage wins on other occasions besides the time trial, and is eager to test himself in the climbs to come. Answering his critics who focused on his seemingly poor form in the early season, Ullrich said simply that he doesn't need to win the Tour of Mallorca if he wants to win the Tour de France.

"This went better than I expected," he said of the opening day of racing. "I'm on the right track."

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