July 02, 2005
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Sebastian Moll offers a look at the day's events from the perspective of Jan Ullrich. I said at the end of the stage that T-Mobile would have to give serious thought to switching alliance to Alexandre Vinokourov, who finished 3rd on the day, 53 seconds back, and Moll examines the question in more depth:
What's more, the T-Mobile hierarchy seems to be running quite counter to what the marketing experts in the corporate headquarters in Bonn would like. Vino was 15 seconds faster than Ullrich, although the Kazakh is a far better climber than he is a time trialist.
And that really is the heart of the issue. The team time trial is probably a draw, especially with the stupid rule limiting time losses. Maybe there's a day where Ullrich gets a minute in the mountains, but that's going to be neutralized by the day (or days) when Armstrong does the same to him; Armstrong is the better climber. The long time trial, on the last competitive day of the Tour, looms large as the only place I could see Ullrich putting a dent into Armstrong.
Vinokourov has three mountaintop finishes where he could possibly gap Armstrong, and less time to make up than Ullrich.
Evidently, the Tuscan miracle doctor [Luigi Cecchini] was not able to do much good anymore on a formerly great champion, whose best days may be over.
"I'm a bit demoralized," he said, "but the Tour has just started." Ullrich, who has never been overtaken in a time trial before, admitted that "it was not nice to be surpassed by Lance." He went on to declare that he had given everything he had and insisted that he had not failed completely.
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