Armstrong seals position among the great riders

Lance Armstrong settled the Tour de France, and any doubts his critics may have had, by beating the world time trial champion, Jan Ullrich, in a highly charged duel.

Lance Armstrong settled the Tour de France, and any doubts his critics may have had, by beating the world time trial champion, Jan Ullrich, in a highly charged duel.

The American raced to victory by 25 seconds, and came close to matching his compatriot Greg LeMond's record speed in a Tour time trial in 1989 with an average speed of 53.986kph. LeMond clocked 54.545kph to snatch the yellow jersey from the Frenchman Laurent Fignon on the last day by eight seconds.

Armstrong extended his overall lead to 6min 2sec over the German in front of huge crowds - police estimated Thursday's at 1.5 million - roared the riders over the pan-flat course from Fribourg-en-Brisgau.

"It was a big fight. I did not expect to beat him in his own back yard, especially with huge crowds that were so obviously rooting for him," Armstrong said. "I had an empty feeling until now. With this win my Tour is complete. This one has been more satisfying. Last year was special but without Ullrich and Marco Pantani, so there was criticism of my performance. This time they were here, so it is definitely a vindication.

"I thought about those critics a lot through the winter, spring, and even riding on Hautacam mountain in this Tour. You could have filled a team with the people who could have won the Tour after I had won it. Everyone said 'if he could win, so could I'."

He regretted his battle with Pantani. "It was a waste of time and energy. I provoked him, and Il Pirata walked the plank, and I almost lost the Tour."

Armstrong was recalling the day on the Joux Plane mountain when he cracked, and Pantani went out of the Tour. "It could have been a lot worse than it was. I was prepared to lose three minutes, but I did not lose that in the end."

After this battle between Armstrong and Ullrich the scene is set for another confrontation in the Olympic time trial in Sydney. "That is my next big objective," Armstrong said.

Laurent Jalabert sought comfort from this time trial for a poor Tour in which he is more than one hour and 50 minutes off the pace. He found it by displacing David Millar from the head of the leaderboard by nine seconds, and setting the third fastest average speed, 51.017kph, in Tour history, until Armstrong stormed in. "The last few days I have not been in great shape, so I decided to find out where I stood," Jalabert said. "It doesn't change my Tour. I came to do better, so I must fight until the end."

Millar set the Tour talking when he won the opening time trial at the Futuroscope, but he was expecting to find yesterday's stretch too far for him. He finished seventh fastest, 3min 56sec slower than Armstrong.

"Because of the wind the time trial was very tough, but there were great crowds and that helps a lot," Millar said. "The long straights were psychologically difficult and because there was no end in sight it made the course even harder. I cannot say that I had a good Tour but I finished well, and I have learned a lot over the three weeks."

Millar, too, will be in Sydney for the big race against the clock, and so will Chris Boardman, who missed what would have been his last Tour which, but, Olympics apart, he has a new target before retirement. The world hour record-holder is attacking the world hour record mark set by Belgian legend Eddy Merckx 28 years ago. It is a case of attempting to put the record straight.

Rule changes have eliminated the hi-tech bikes such as that used by Boardman to win Olympic gold in 1992 and set the world hour record at 56.375km. He wants to set a world hour record on a standard track bike and is aiming at Merckx's mark, 49.431km, set at altitude in Mexico, and the last ridden on a standard bike.

"Chris's record is losing credibility because no one can attack it," Boardman's business manager, Peter Woodworth, said.

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Arts and Entertainment
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: HVAC Project Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will b...

Recruitment Genius: Key Accounts Administrator - Fixed Term

£13500 - £14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting new opportunity has...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - Business Services-£70,000 OTE

£35000 - £45000 per annum + OTE £70,000 + car + pension: h2 Recruit Ltd: A wel...

Recruitment Genius: Service Receptionist / Warranty Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game