July 18, 2003
"I did not start the Tour as a rider for the general classification, despite what some people might have thought. I wanted to prove myself with a stage win, but I didn't expect it would be such a great one. I was surprised when I heard the time gap I had to Armstrong, and that puts me in a situation I have still to reflect on."
The Daily Peloton adds their impressions of the ITT, with their daily "Golden Hams" and "Ham-Gazers".
Among the golden:
"RoboJan" Ullrich (Team Bianchi). Boy, what an ass-whuppin'. Before the Tour, I commented that Ullrich was following the advice of the United States' 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, who believed that it was wise to "walk softly and carry a big stick." Ullrich has kept his mouth quiet and his aspirations humble, but today he took out that big stick and started whacking the hell out of the other riders.
Among the gazers:
Lance "El Jefe" Armstrong (United States Postal Service presented by Berry Floor). ... Lance took one on the chin today, but he is the champ, and he will come out swinging tomorrow. He will attack now because he has to, and the dogfight that ensues once he launches off the front should be the most exciting racing we've seen yet. Cue up your VCRs, strap on your crash helmets, and return your seats to their full, upright positions: the Pyrenees are coming.
I'd read it all.
And while a bubbly Ullrich explained how he meticulously prepared for the crucial 12th stage "down to the last meter," Armstrong - appearing perhaps symbolically in his normal team jersey and not the race leader's yellow jersey - admitted he'd made a major blunder.
"Maybe it was too hot for me. I suffered," said Armstrong, who had called Friday's time trial the most important time trial in his Tour career. "I didn't feel so good on the (last) climb. There was a moment where I felt like I was going backwards. I felt thirsty throughout the stage, and it was the thirstiest I've ever felt in a time trial.
"In the second half of the course there was a moment when I knew I had a problem. I'd run out of water and, well, maybe I didn't drink enough before the stage. It's crazy because I knew it was going to be 35 degrees (Celsius) and we'd gone over the course in the morning."
"He's the Tour favourite," said the American, who is bidding for a record-equalling fifth Tour victory on July 27 in Paris.
"I've said it many times before that Jan was my leading rival and I'm saying it again," he added after the 12th stage time trial from Gaillac to the Cap Decouverte theme park.
But Armstrong, who is suffering as never before in this Tour as he is faced by only average form and suffocating heat, made it clear he would not surrender without a fight.
Though Ullrich will now be the favourite for next week's 49 km time trial from Pornic to Nantes, Armstrong said: "Jan had a super day, but if you look at the past, he has very rarely beaten me in a time trial. I'm still as confident with the final time trial.
The Reuters report also says Armstrong, who has traditionally excelled in miserable weather conditions, "rejoiced at news that weather forecasts for the grueling stages ahead in the Pyrenees were bad."
Chris Brewer is doing stage reports for the official Lance Armstrong web site.
Today, he says:
To profile the 2 riders, Ullrich was power while Lance was smooth today. Both riders looked in total control as they blazed the challenging course. But between the 2 focal points, Alexandre Vinokourov was also riding well. Despite being expected to drop some serious time, the Telokom leader posted the 3rd best times throughout the stage, and CSC's Tyler Hamilton continued to amaze as he was 5th on the day.
Brewer thinks Vinokourov is for real:
So the selection process has begun - Armstrong, Ullrich, and Vinokourov the apparent primary contenders now. The roads will now tilt up viciously and the selection will continue. Nothing is certain save for the fact that high drama will be the rule of the day through Monday - and maybe all the way to the final Stage 19 Time Trial July 26...
"Everything's possible," said Ullrich after the stage when asked if he could challenge Armstrong for the leader's yellow jersey.
"I'm here really to train with a view to next year's Tour but of course I'm still very happy to have beat Lance Armstrong today.
"There's four very hard days in the mountains coming so we'll see what happens.
"But I don't want to think too much about that. I just want to savour this win."
Ullrich won the Tour in 1997 and twice was runner-up to Armstrong.
"From the start I never thought I could win this time trial," he said at the finish, sweat dripping from his face. "I got my old rhythm back. ... I didn't expect this myself."
"I have never beaten Armstrong in a time trial in the Tour before, and I did it now, in my comeback year," Ullrich said.
"I have no words" to express the joy, he said.
Armstrong looked exhausted at the end of Friday's stage and was foaming slightly at the mouth after crossing the finish line.
Tyler Hamilton, an American competing with a broken collarbone, placed fifth and trails Armstrong by 2:59.
The 29-year-old German, who clocked 58 minutes and 32 seconds, had not won a timed test on the Tour since 1998 and looked as impressive as in 1997 when he won his only Tour to date.
The win was all the more significant as Armstrong, beaten in the first big time trial of last year's Tour by Colombian Santiago Botero, had called Friday's stage 'the most important time trial of my career'.
Stage 12: Ja Ja Jan
What a treat to see Jan Ullrich really show what he can do, as he finished in 58:32, the only rider under an hour on the course.
Lance Armstrong came second at 1:00:08, 1:36 behind Ullrich.
It was Ullrich's fifth career Tour time trial victory. Ullrich moves into second on the general classification.
1) Ullrich (Bianchi) 58:32
2) Armstrong (US Postal) @ 1:36
3) Vinokourov (Telekom) @ 2:06
4) Zubeldia (Euskaltel) @ 2:40
5) Hamilton (CSC) @ 2:43
6) Uwe Peschel (Gerolsteiner) @ 3:26
7) David Millar (Cofidis) @ 3:55
8) Inigo Chaurreau (AG2R) @ 4:01
9) David Plaza (Bianchi) @ 4:37
10) Santiago Botero (Telekom) @ 5:00
11) Francisco Mancebo (iBanesto.com) @ 5:00
12) Iban Mayo (Euskaltel) @ 5:03
22) Michael Rogers (QuickStep) @ 6:06
David Etxebarria of the Euskaltel team finished 167th, 14:22 behind Ullrich. It's likely he was soft-pedaling a bit in preparation for 4 days in the Pyrenees, starting tomorrow.
I think the pressure's really going to be on Armstrong now -- he'll have to get some time on Ullrich somewhere in the mountains, because there's another time trial yet to come.
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Ullrich (Bianchi) @ :34
3) Vinokourov @ :51
4) Hamilton @ 2:59
5) Zubeldia @ 4:29
www.letour.fr | Where did the top 10 finish in the Prologue?
13 H 57 - Where Did The Current Overall 10 Finish In The Prologue?
The starting order is the reverse of the overall classification. Here is a summary of where the current top 10 riders finished in the prologue time trial in Paris:
1. Armstrong (USP) - 7th in the 6.5km prologue at 7" (to McGee)
2. Vinokourov (TEL) - 71st at 25"
3. Mayo (EUS) - 41st at 19"
4. Mancebo (BAN) - 99th at 31"
5. Hamilton (CSC) - 6th at 6"
6. Ullrich (TBI) - 4th at 2"
7. Basso (FAS) - 97th at 31"
8. Heras (USP) - 108th at 33"
9. Zubeldia (EUS) - 3rd at 2"
10. Menchov (BAN) - 49th at 20"
From the Tour website.
O’Grady - who had been part of the pursuig group alongside Frenchman Carlos Da Cruz - said it could have been different had his companions worked together.
“I’m really disappointed. I was in the right break but at the end nothing worked out the way I wanted,” said O’Grady who is still looking for his first stage win of this year’s race.
“Toulouse is like my second home after Adelaide, so I was pretty motivated to win here. But what can you do when you’ve got riders like Da Cruz who don’t want to collaborate.”
Um, Stuart, a little tip. If they’re not wearing green and white jerseys that look like yours, they’re not necessarily looking out for your best interests.
However Da Cruz, who rides for the fdjeux.com team of green jersey wearer Baden Cooke, said he had a good reason for sticking with the Aussie.
“My mission today was to stick with Stuart O’Grady. When he left the group I followed him and contested the intermediate sprints,” said Da Cruz.
“We had to make sure he didn’t take too many points for the green jersey. It’s an absolute priority for us to defend Baden’s lead.”
(See also Michael Rogers’s VeloNews rider diary entry, where he couldn’t understand Da Cruz’s and Portal’s part in the break).
Tour Today: Gaillac - Cap'Découverte
It's the first individual time trial, a 47 km stage that undulates between Gaillac and Cap'Découverte, and that's likely to shake a few climbers down the overall classification.
iBanesto.com moved ahead of CSC in the team competition thanks to Fecha's stage win, leading by 15 secs.
Juan Antonio Fecha of iBanesto will be wearing the red race number of the most aggressive rider.
Thursday's stage counted toward the Centenaire classification, currently led by Baden Cooke.
Michael Rogers wasn't too happy with the riding of Carlos Da Cruz of FDJeux.com and Nicolas Portal of AG2R, who marked him (and Stuart O'Grady) through the long breakaway yesterday:
I couldn't scratch my arse without them bloody getting on my wheel.
When you have two guys like them, who ride as if their lives depend on chasing you back, it's not easy to get away. How they raced today was a disgrace. And what did they gain from it? Fifth and seventh place!
Rogers said getting in the breakaway may affect his TT today:
I've never raced for so many days. And with tomorrow's stage 12 time-trial next up on the menu of pain, I had intended to save myself by hiding in the bunch. But what's done is done, and now all I can do is recover and pray the legs will return for the 47km race of truth in which I had hoped, with a good ride, to finish in the top five.
Rogers recently resigned with QuickStep-Davitamon for two more years.
cyclingnews.com offers an interview with green jersey Baden Cooke. It’s 3-1 that the Aussies will take the green jersey, but which Aussie?
Cooke’s lead over Robbie McEwen in the points race dwindled to 8 pts Thursday, and Stuart O’Grady made up 12 points, moving into 4th place, behind Cooke, McEwen, and Erik Zabel.
“Since McEwen has been struggling on the climbs, I am more worried about Zabel and O’Grady, because they have been doing some good climbing. McEwen could be in danger of being eliminated once we get to the Pyrenees. Thor Hushovd has also been climbing well, but I don’t think he’s fast enough to pick up on the points. Zabel and O’Grady could be dangerous if it came down to a bonus sprint after a climb, but so far I’ve been the better sprinter.”
Cooke credits Bradley McGee as his “secret weapon:”
“He has the knowledge of how to put me in a perfect position for the sprints, and he is riding so strongly at the moment.”