July 02, 2004
Roche tips Ullrich
Stephen Roche, 1987 Tour de France champion, says Jan Ullrich will finally get his 2nd yellow jersey in the 2004 Tour.
"I would be really surprised if Armstrong won," Roche told BBC Sport.
"He may be mentally tougher than he's ever been and tactically more astute, but I don't believe he's the same rider physically anymore."
He added: "If I were to pick it, I'd go Ullrich first, Tyler Hamilton second and Armstrong third."
Roche gives a lot of weight to Armstrong's performance at the Dauphiné Libéré, and to Ullrich's strong Tour de Suisse, and the tighter Tour de France from last year.
"Last year, the cracks started to show," said Roche. "Those cracks are only going to get wider."
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I was initially quite worried about Armstrong after the Dauphiné Libéré. But I'm starting to change my mind. First, the prologue was compelling. 15 on Ullirich and 16 on Hamilton is just huge on that distance. Second, with Vinokourov out, Postal is absolutely the premier team tactically and powerfully. Thirdly, his mental state seems completely focused. This guy wants another vicotry. Fourthly, Outside of Ullrich (and granted, that's a big "outside"), Heras and Hamilton aren't bringing the same level of experience to the Tour. Finally, after the famous 2001 TdF LA fakeout, I wouldn't be surprised if LA used the Dauphiné Libéré to inspire a little false hope in his rivals. Yeah, that's baseless crappy speculation. But you never know.
Just some idle thoughts. I'm disappointed that OLN has thus far essentially ignored Ullrich. Yes, everyone loves Hamilton, but I want to hear a bit more about the German.
Posted by: harry at Jul 9, 2004 9:58:46 PM