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
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Alexis Sanchez video: Turns out the Arsenal forward is brilliant at playing the piano too
Premier League: Chelsea vs West Ham match preview
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
Documentary recalling Crazy Gang's 'thuggery' has Dave Bassett up in arms
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 5 New route to Mars could make manned mission much cheaper and easier
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...