Cycling: Ullrich closes on podium place after climb
Friday 22 July 2005
The stage win was long out of the question for the German - that had gone to the Spaniard Marcos Serrano, the strongest of a day-long early move of 10 - but Ullrich's objective could not have been more different.
Upstaged by his more aggressive, if less consistent team-mate and fellow-contender Alexandre Vinokourov, and with his last chance to beat Armstrong long gone, the 31-year-old's current aim is to restore some credibility by at least clinching a podium finish.
His all-out bid at Mende began the process well. Mickael Rasmussen flailed badly, unable to hold on to Ullrich's wheel when the T-Mobile rider reacted confidently to an attack by the Italian Ivan Basso.
With Armstrong almost inevitably responding to Basso's move, and the Australian Cadel Evans, riding a superb first Tour, also making the cut, the four reached the finish 37 seconds ahead of Rasmussen.
Ullrich has now reduced the Dane's overall margin to less than three minutes, making it more than feasible that on tomorrow's 55km time trial, he will overhaul the Rabobank rider. "Of course I want the third place, but it's also important to get the teams classification prize for T-Mobile in Paris," Ullrich said.
Yesterday's stage win by Serrano was designed to save the bacon for Liberty Seguros, who began the race with high hopes. The Spanish squad's leader, climber Roberto Heras, has won the Tour of Spain three times, but his bids to beat Armstrong on the Tour have failed miserably.
Heras has barely been seen but his team worker Serrano played a masterly tactical game. Shadowing Cedric Vasseur until it was clear the Frenchman was going to crack, Serrano went clear a kilometre from the summit to take his first Tour stage at 32. "It's true that we came here to win the Tour, but better to have this than nothing, no?" Serrano asked; a grudgingly accepted cliché for many during the Armstrong era.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United vs Sunderland match report: Wayne Rooney scores twice but referee Roger East sends off Wes Brown instead of John O'Shea
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Eden Hazard exclusive interview - All is rosy in the garden of Eden
Chelsea vs Tottenham combined XI: Hugo Lloris or Thibaut Courtois? Willian or Christian Eriksen? Who makes the final cut?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos; Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer; Dmitry Chudinov vs Chris Eubank Jr - boxing on TV this weekend
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...