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Ullrich's thrown down the gauntlet(31 posts)

Ullrich's thrown down the gauntletDog
Dec 12, 2001 6:37 AM
Cycling- "I can win Tour de France again," says Ullrich

BERLIN, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Germany's Jan Ullrich has not given up hope of beating arch-rival Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France again. "I can still improve [i.e., lose weight] and I'm not giving up [I have a contract]," Ullrich, who burst into the limelight by winning the race in 1997, told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview released on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old cyclist said American Armstrong, who has won the Tour for the last three years and relegated Ullrich into second place in the last two, was not unbeatable [ya, he could wreck badly or something].

"I will never say that I will not win the Tour as long as Lance is around," Ullrich said. "If I thought that, I'd better stop. I want to win the Tour again." [not exactly a statement of pure confidence, though, huh?]

[bla ba bla ba bla...] Ullrich, under investigation in connection with a doping scandal at this year's Giro d'Italy race, repeated that he had not taken banned drugs [not the banned ones - we came up with new ones].

"I have done nothing wrong," he said.

Ullrich's Deutsche Telekom team say he was using a medicine to cure asthma and for which he had permission from the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Italian prosecutors [who couldn't even nail Pantani] have officially notified 84 riders, including Ullrich, that they are being investigated following raids by drug squad officers at team hotels in the final stages of the Giro in June [Ullrich was way out of it by then, anyway].

Dog
re: Ullrich's thrown down the gauntletElefantino
Dec 12, 2001 6:47 AM
Interesting Q&A. Here's the link:

http://www.faz.com/IN/INtemplates/eFAZ/docmain.asp?rub={B1311FCF-FBFB-11D2-B228-00105A9CAF88}&doc={CDF7287E-F460-42AC-9425-409041C6FEC1}
Personally, I like Janpmf1
Dec 12, 2001 6:49 AM
And I route for him to win. He's very good, but just can't seem to peak by Tour time. It certianly would be a more exciting Tour if Armstrong were not competing. However, we all know that he'll dominate it again. Postal is better than ever. He may be the first to pull off 6 wins. I'd bet on it. The only excitement of the Tour these days is not if Armstrong will blow everyone away, but which climb he will choose to do it on.
exciting...Dog
Dec 12, 2001 6:58 AM
"...would be a more exciting Tour if Armstrong were not competing"

No way! I think having the Ullrich/Armstrong rivalry is just what makes it exciting, not go mention having an American (ethnocentric bias) in the running. Plus, if Armstrong weren't there, it would simply be Ullrich doing all the dominating. You'd have the same situation.

One of these days Ullrich is going to read Lance's training book and figure it out. He'll be tough to beat then, and maybe we'll have a close race.

Dog
I dunno ...pmf1
Dec 12, 2001 7:17 AM
I haven't got my book of Tour facts in front of me, but I seem to remember that the race for the poduim (not necessarily first place) being fairly competitive. Remember when Julich came in 3-rd a few years back? Following that was more exciting to me than following Armstrong has been lately.

It is good to have such a dominant American presence in professional cycling. Not just Armstrong, but the whole team and more U.S. riders on other teams as well.
exciting...badabill
Dec 12, 2001 7:41 AM
Ditto that the only rider who seems to be able to race with lance on a day to day basis is Jan. if he learns to climb at a pace that can rival Lance he has a great shot of beating him. the Telecom team is the strongest, and if Jan can get a break it could be over for Lance. Alls it takes is a cold ar a pulled muscle and his streak is up. So many outside factors come into play at the tour. IIt will be interesting to see if any of the many young guns come into form for next years tour, there are a bunch of young fast racers out there...
Ullrich and Armstrong...TJeanloz
Dec 12, 2001 8:49 AM
Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong could develop into a bigger rivalry than we currently see, because Jean-Marie Leblanc is not the fool that we see him to be.

Leblanc's job is to make the Tour interesting, and that actually means setting it up so that the defending champion has a difficult time winning (unless that champion is French). When Pantani was thought to be the contender, the Tour route was altered for more climbing- up Ventoux for example. Now that he's out of the mix, and Ullrich appears back in, it should not surprise us that we see a flatter tour with more rest days. Both of these will help Ullrich- he won't lose as much time on the climbs, and he has even odds with Armstrong in any TT's.

Also remember that Ullrich is younger than Armstrong- he is, in fact, still younger than Armstrong was when he won his first tour. Ullirch still has time to develop into his prime- Armstrong may be developing out of his.
Did you read the article in USA Today?shylock
Dec 12, 2001 6:31 PM
Supposedly next year will be the shortest tour in some time, and designed in such a way that it will be hard for Lance to repeat -- at least, that's how USA Today reported it
No,TJeanloz
Dec 13, 2001 6:46 AM
I'm too snobbish to read USA Today. But it is apparent that next year's Tour route was designed to make the race more exciting in the later stages.
"I know the reasons"opppssssss
Dec 12, 2001 7:13 AM
"I know the reasons I didn't win the Tour de France the last few years, and that's important," Ullrich said."

Only one reason and his name is Lance!
re: Ullrich's thrown down the gauntletCT1
Dec 12, 2001 8:09 AM
Doug

I think Implying that Lance will have to wreck to not win the next TDF is rather disrespectful to the other riders. There are lots of reasons for him not winning. Not the least of them being someone just beating him. And although I would say LA is definitely the odds-on favorite there are several riders that will/can take advantage of any problems he might encounter. I for one would LOVE to see Lieph or Ullrich challenge him big time next time out.

final comment:
Any way you look at it the last three tours have been WAY WAY BORING and I don't think having one rider dominate the event is good for the "show".

JohnG
re: Ullrich's thrown down the gauntletJon
Dec 12, 2001 8:19 AM
I sure as heck didn't find last year'sTour boring. But psychologically Lance already has Ullrich
beaten, which is a bit of a shame. On the other hand, losing Ekimov and Hamilton, and Leipheimer, Postal in
my opinion is not getting stronger as a team. So from a team tactics perspective Telekom and
Ullrich have a real opportunity to be competitive. But whether Jan can ever match Lance's
training focus and dedication is the $64.00 question.
How many Tours have you followed?pmf1
Dec 12, 2001 8:23 AM
Come on, be honest ... the last two have been incredibly boring. Even worse than most of the Indurain ones (he's a Spanish guy who won 5 times). I quit paying attention halfway through it last year because it was so predictable.
I don't know...Tig
Dec 12, 2001 8:57 AM
...but some of the Indurain won tours were pretty damn boring. I highly respect the man, but his lack of social charisma and how easy he made everything look made for slow entertainment for us lazy viewers!

At least the 2001 tour had the added challenge of the top riders having to reel the escapees back in after their get away earlier in the race. It didn't take long before we all knew the outcome though.
re: us postal not getting stronger as a team,guido
Dec 12, 2001 12:34 PM
Lance kept saying last year that without his team backing him 100%, he could not have won another tour. Heras, for one, helped Lance enough that Lance returned the favor in the Vuelta (was that in 2000?). Give the USPS team some of the credit for doing a superb job keeping Lance at the front.
Um, pay attention,TJeanloz
Dec 12, 2001 1:35 PM
Lance could not have won the Tour without his team.

But Heras didn't do much for him- though Rubiera, Heras' domestique, did quite a bit for Lance at the Tour.

Lance did not ride the Vuelta in support of Heras- he last rode it in 1998.
Um, pay attention,guido
Dec 12, 2001 2:24 PM
Yeah, that's the one, Rubiera. Thanks.
no disrepectDog
Dec 12, 2001 8:21 AM
No intention to dis any of the other riders. I think most would agree that Lance is the overwhelming favorite, including Jan himself.

This may be a little sick, but isn't there some interest in seeing not only can Lance win, but by how much? To me, it was incredible to see Lance pull away from Jan after "the look."

Yes, the last few days of the Tour were a little boring, but blame the format for that, not Lance's superiority. When they give everyone in a group the same time, flatter races will nearly always be boring as far as the GC is concerned. I'd like it better if the final stage were a long time trial into Paris. Doesn't make for good show down the boulevards, but that would certainly help to keep it exciting.

Dog
Nah ...pmf1
Dec 12, 2001 8:25 AM
You have to keep the last stage into Paris as a short road race so the French guys have a chance to win a stage.
LeBlanc and his minions...Djudd
Dec 12, 2001 8:38 AM
have looked at the Vuelta and learned (hopefully) that longer and tougher individual stages don't necessarily make the entire race more exciting.
I like Jan which is not to say I dislike Lance. In fact I submit that without Jan there would be no three-time tour winning Lance. They our are Wilt Chamberlin/Bill Russell. We should enjoy the competition. The TdF high mucky-mucks should skew the tour to take advantage of the situation instead of concentrating on trying to make sure French bush-leaguers get in (pardon my rant)
I agree.El Carnuba
Dec 12, 2001 9:03 AM
People find it boring because they think the outcome is a foregone conclusion. Everytime I watch the race, I am in awe of how LA can just pull away from the best riders in the world at will. I thougth this year was great. You're right about the "how much" part. If he's gonna win, might as well win by alot.
posturingJack S
Dec 12, 2001 8:28 AM
how else to get the team some press when they are not racing?
Asthmadavidl
Dec 12, 2001 8:44 AM
Does it seem like a lot of these guys have asthma ?
re: Ullrich's thrown down the gauntletMikeC
Dec 12, 2001 8:48 AM
I know this is a simplification, but it seems to me that Lance's TdF success is primarily the result of the following factors:
1. He was a well-conditioned, successful athlete with good genetics and strong desire to win before he got sick.
2. He used his illness and recovery to increase his motivation even more.
3. His illness and recovery program resulted in a re-sculpted body, with less body mass in areas not beneficial to cycling.
4. He developed and refined a cadence that matched his physiology.
5. He pioneered the concept of training specifically for the Tour, matching his training to the terrain and conditions he would battle. He also rode the specific routes, memorizing and learning their features.
7. He used altitude tents to increase the efficiency of his cardio-vascular training.
Now there's no question that Lance is a unique individual, but I can't believe that he is the most physically-gifted person on the planet. There are probably cyclists right now who can match or beat him in the lab (yes, we all know what he says about Jan). So my humble opinion is that another gifted athlete will come along at some point, take what they've learned from Lance in terms of training technology (and possibly expand on it), mix in a strong degree of unique personal motivation, and usher in a new era.
For me, the only question is when. Will it happen while Lance is still at his prime, when he's on the downhill side of the mountain, or after he's retired? Lance isn't magic; he's smart. The key is finding someone understands the Tour as well as he does, and wants it as badly.
Some day they'll...Jon
Dec 12, 2001 8:57 AM
be writing up Lance in the chapters on specificity in physiology textbooks. He's taken the
principle to new applications. When will Armstrong be eclipsed? How long did it take for
Tiger Woods to come along to better Nicklaus' performances? When will the next super-
Jordan or super-Gretzky show up? Who knows? Nobody has outdone Merckx. And nobody
probably ever will.

BTW, I sure agree about the French using the Tour to buttress their own local, homegrown
mediocrities!! Kind of like the American road race committees a few years ago discriminating
against the Kenyans because North American runners are too lazy to compete with them.
Well, too really simplify it...Wayne
Dec 12, 2001 12:02 PM
Armstrong peaks for the tour better than anybody else. A few weeks following the tour two years ago a better-than-Tour-form Ullrich rode Armstrong off his wheel at the Champ. of Zurich world cup race. He also bested him in the Olympic Time trial (and everybody in the Road Race). The way Ullrich kept getting better this year seemed to indicate that he wasn't in tip-top shape at tour time again! I still think both of these guys at their best are pretty much equal and better than anyone else out there right now. And there maybe some guys who in tip-top shape could at least give them a run for their money in the mountains on any given day (Casagrande, Simoni, etc.). If I was Ullrich I'd ride the Giro to win it this year, and then come to the tour and see what happened. It seems to take him lots of racing and a long time to reach his best form and he seems to hold it for a long time, whereas Armstrong gets in top form with relatively little racing and only holds it for a short time (I thought this year he may have peaked too early but that didn't turn out to be the case). Anyway, Armstrong will once again be a huge favorite but you never know what will happen, Indurain looked invincible until he cracked!
I agree. (nm)Jon
Dec 12, 2001 12:46 PM
goodDuane Gran
Dec 12, 2001 9:41 AM
I'm glad to see some resolve in Ullrich. I have admired him for several years and would be quite happy to see him win. In the interview I suspect something is lost in the translation, or his personality is simply a bit humble. While Simoni is claiming he'll beat Armstrong in the mountains, Ullrich seems to be more introspective. I like that.

It is popular for some reason to describe Ullrich as a fat slob, which is unfortunate. After his TdF win in 1997 he did get a bit plump in the off season and embarrassed himself a little. Since then he has been fit as a fiddle through the off season. With regard to the TdF he just happens to traditionally be the second strongest person.

Either way, I don't think the tour has been boring at all. In fact it is a great rivalry, but I would be happy to see Beloki turn it into a three horse show. I'm looking forward to seeing Simoni in the tour next year as well.

I like hearing the pros re-assert their intentions to train well, if for no other reason, because it reminds me to do the same for my lowly amateur races.
Ullrich as Poulidor?Tom C
Dec 12, 2001 9:55 AM
2nd in 1996 to teammate Riis
2nd in 1998 to pantani
2nd in 1999
"" 2000
"" 2001
2002? and although younger than Armstrong not getting any younger. His legacy is behind him not ahead.
Amnesia?TJeanloz
Dec 13, 2001 1:16 PM
You omit one result:

1st in 1997

And are incorrect on another, he did not ride the Tour de France in 1999 due to a nagging knee injury. Alex Zulle was 2nd in 1999.

Pou Pou never won it at all.
....and picks up the drumstick?grzy
Dec 13, 2001 6:03 PM
Or is he feasting on his own foot now?

Maybe he needs to see THE video again.