July 26, 2003
Over at VeloNews, John Wilcockson offers a look at the battle royal later today.
The Tour is up for grabs. And to add to the drama, a storm is blowing in off of the Atlantic.
Just in time for the battle between Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich in their stage 19 duel on Saturday. It will take place in conditions that Méteo France is predicting will be wet and windy.
At the 4 p.m. start times of the American and German (they will be separated on the road by three minutes), the forecast calls for heavy rain, tail winds averaging 15 mph with gusts up to 45 mph. The only good news is that the rain might let up before they finish.
Wilcockson notes that Greg LeMond still holds the record for fastest Tour time trial at 54.545 kph (33.892 mph). Armstrong has already said he thinks it will take a pace close to the Tour record to win the stage.
Ullrich has revealed that he intends to push a 56 (!) x 11 across much of the race course.
But the duel between the top two is the story. Ullrich has to make up 65 seconds on Armstrong, and his Bianchi team is sure he can do it. They argue that the German beat Armstrong by 1:36 in the stage 12 time trial, but that was in heat-wave conditions that cause Armstrong to dehydrate.
Armstrong rides well in the rain though, and he has the motivation to defeat his opponent. Perhaps by as much as a second a kilometer, to take his fifth consecutive Tour victory.
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