July 12, 2004
Ullrich's coach: Armstrong 'has no weaknesses'
Five-time runner-up Jan Ullrich is 55 seconds down on 5-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong with one-third of the Tour out of the way.
Ullrich's coach talked to procycling on Saturday, and said Armstrong's lead over Ullrich is "too much at such an early stage of the race."
There's been a lot of speculation on the mistakes Ullrich has supposedly made so far: not wearing earphones in the prologue, using a disk wheel in the prologue, NOT using a disk wheel in the team time trial...
Walter Godefroot, director of T-Mobile said Ullrich has missed two chances in the first week:
“Losing 15 seconds in the prologue was bad for morale and sent out the wrong message. In the team time trial, we were unlucky with punctures and the weather conditions, but they were the same for everyone. It was only thanks to the new rules that we lost 40 seconds and not 1-19. Jan himself has often been poorly placed and perhaps lacks a bit of power compared to his rivals. Fortunately we are only one week in to the race… We’ll see how the rest pans out.”
Honestly, I think people are piling on a little early. Ullrich has never won a prologue; the short TTs favor Armstrong, who won in 1999 and 2002. The TTT has never gone T-Mobile's way; last year, they finished 1:30 behind USPS (without Ullrich) while Jan's substitute team came in :43 behind the Blue Train.
Ullrich hasn't missed a break, he's avoided the pavement (unlike about 100 other riders), and his team is still 9 strong.
What's in it for Godefroot? Maybe a little tough love for Jan, maybe a little psychological warfare intended for the Posties. We'll know this week if Ullrich brought his best form.
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I've got to believe this is Godefroot's kick in Ullrich's pants, because to finish 15+ seconds behind Armstrong in the prologue was a signal that the "Jan's the dominant indiv. time trialer" days may be over. What does he have to lose? the big man needs to put time into Lance, and soon.
Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 12, 2004 2:59:52 PM