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Armstrong says Ullrich will win!(37 posts)

Armstrong says Ullrich will win!DougSloan
Jul 18, 2003 9:57 AM
(sort of)

Armstrong says Ullrich is now Tour favourite

By Francois Thomazeau

CAP DECOUVERTE, France, July 18 (Reuters) - Race leader Lance Armstrong tipped Jan Ullrich as the most likely winner of this year's Tour de France after being dominated by the German rider in a 47 km time trial on Friday.

"He's the Tour favourite," said the American, who is bidding for a record-equalling fifth Tour victory on July 27 in Paris.

"I've said it many times before that Jan was my leading rival and I'm saying it again," he added after the 12th stage time trial from Gaillac to the Cap Decouverte theme park.

But Armstrong, who is suffering as never before in this Tour as he is faced by only average form and suffocating heat, made it clear he would not surrender without a fight.

Though Ullrich will now be the favourite for next week's 49 km time trial from Pornic to Nantes, Armstrong said: "Jan had a super day, but if you look at the past, he has very rarely beaten me in a time trial. I'm still as confident with the final time trial.

"From now on, it's not my responsibility to respond to attacks. If there are attacks, I'll try to follow. But if by the last time trial in Nantes, there is still 34 seconds between us, I will not lose sleep," he said.

Armstrong, who returned from near-fatal cancer in 1999 to win his first Tour, had the worst possible preparation for this race, suffering stomach problems a week before the prologue before crashing on day one.

The heat, which has been unrelenting on the Tour for almost two weeks, did not help.


"Maybe it was too hot for me. I suffered," he said about his time trial, in which he finished 1:36 behind Ullrich.

"I did not feel too bad. Most of the time, I had an incredible presence. But I ran out of water before the final climb and I felt I was going backward rather than forward.

"It was the first time in a time trial that I was thirsty from the very beginning," he said.

Whereas Ullrich said he adored the furnace-like conditions, the Texan admitted the weather had been a factor.

"Heat makes it very difficult. Nobody really excels in the heat. But I grew up in temperatures hotter than this, so I would think that I could handle it," he said.

The U.S. Postal team leader rejoiced at news that weather forecasts for the gruelling stages ahead in the Pyrenees were bad. "That's good news," he said.

Much now depends on the strength of his team and their ability to drop Ullrich, who won the 1997 Tour, in the mountain passes over the next four stages.

Otherwise, the Tour could be decided by the man-to-man fight between Pornic and Nantes on July 26, the penultimate stage of the race.
The Heatjumphress
Jul 18, 2003 10:18 AM
Worth noting that the weather in this Tour is a lot hotter than the previous four. Lance's observations after his win at Siestrieres in 1999:

"If you look at the weather, it was a good day for me because of the conditions. I always ride well in this cold weather conditions. In cold rain, you don't have too much competition. It was raining in Oslo, in the Amstel, in other races I won in my career. On the Galibier, I did not feel super. Then I looked at the others and, by the look on their faces, I saw that they were suffering too. Today was brutal. It was cold, very cold. ... "

I have always wondered how Lance would fare in a really hot Tour. Maybe we're finding out.
Ulrich likes heat, hates cold.fcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 10:47 AM
If I remember correctly, he crumbled in the cold and rain on a mountain pass against Pantani. They say he excels in the heat but not in the cold.

classic Armstrong quote...funknuggets
Jul 18, 2003 10:21 AM
"From now on, it's not my responsibility to respond to attacks. If there are attacks, I'll try to follow. But if by the last time trial in Nantes, there is still 34 seconds between us, I will not lose sleep," he said.

I love the brazen attitude after a thorough butt kicking...

Go Lance.

That doesn't square with what Carmichael saidjumphress
Jul 18, 2003 10:31 AM
Here's some of what Coach Carmichael posted on Velonews yesterday.

"The results of tomorrow's time trial will determine everyone's racing strategy for the remainder of the Tour, especially for the Pyrénées. If everything goes as planned and Lance increases his lead over all of his rivals, he won't be under as much pressure to attack in the next four mountain stages. In contrast, his rivals will be forced to attack relentlessly in the Pyrenees with the hope of cracking the U.S. Postal leader and building a significant lead before the Tour's final time trial.

"If the Stage 12 time trial shows that Ullrich's time trial abilities are greater than his climbing strength this year, Lance will know he has to attack in the Pyrenees to establish a comfortable lead on the German before the final time trial.

I'll be interested in reading what he says about today's result.
I think this says it allDougSloan
Jul 18, 2003 10:38 AM
"Much now depends on the strength of his team and their ability to drop Ullrich..."

Lance needs the team more than ever. Of course, he'd already be out of it but for the TTT.
And here's from Carmichael's log on the OLN sitejumphress
Jul 18, 2003 10:42 AM
"Lance wants to finish 30 seconds or more in front of Ullrich in Stage 12, and accomplishing this will determine the remaining course of Lance's Tour. If tomorrow's performance shows he can match or beat Ullrich in the time trial, Lance can go into the Pyrenees without the pressure of having to significantly build on his current 2:10 lead on the Bianchi team leader. If, on the other hand, Ullrich shows his time trial strength is far greater than his climbing ability this year, Lance will know he has to leave Ullrich behind in the Pyrenees and start the final time trial with a comfortable lead."
re: Armstrong says Ullrich will win!koala
Jul 18, 2003 10:31 AM
Dont forget this is where Jan starts to fade. His climbing form doesnt appear really strong now either. Vino is still dangerous, too. Armstrong, Vino, then Jan on the podium.
Don't forget MayoCoolhand
Jul 18, 2003 10:39 AM
Even might TT like crap, but he will be super active in his "home" mountains and will be pushing the pace hard. I expect to see Mayo in the top 3 again by the last TT.

This weekend will tell the tale.

still not sold on ulrich's climbing form.rufus
Jul 18, 2003 11:36 AM
so i figure lance sits back tomorrow and tries to mark whoever goes. vino and mayo, mancebo and others who want a shot at winning will have to attack, and if lance can stay with them,and perhaps make time with a counter-attack, fine. if ulrich can't hang, even better.

but if lance loses time tomorrow to ulrich, vino or a few of the others, i don't think he has any other choice but to attack more aggressively over the next mountain stages.
This could be Jan's tour...Spunout
Jul 18, 2003 10:45 AM
All he has to do is mark Armstrong in the Pyrenees, and smoke him in the last TT. Vinoukorov will be attacking, but he is further down the line. The TT will also take care of Vino for Jan.

Carmichael's comments are true, Lance must attack. Jan is not stupid, he'll watch Heras walk away, only to stay with Lance.
Let's talk about the Bianchi Team Time Trial...fcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 10:58 AM
... we could have seen this coming if we were more observant about the Bianchi team time trial. USPS had a great ride with Once 30 seconds back and Bianchi only 13 seconds behind the great Once team.

How is that possible? Well now we know. Jan pulled the team himself!!! I'm curious to know how much time he spend pulling. I wish we had more video of their ride. Anyone have stats.

Who's on that dang Bianchi team anyway?
Team Bianchi
131 Jan Ullrich (Ger)
132 Daniel Becke (Ger)
133 Angel Casero (Spa)
134 Félix Garcia Casas (Spa)
135 Aitor Garmendia (Spa)
136 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita)
137 Thomas Liese (Ger)
138 David Plaza (Spa)
139 Tobias Steinhauser (Ger)
I recognize a couple names. But we should have sniffed something out here. Plus they hardly had any time to train for the team time trial.

Definitely a Jan effort.
I read somewhere that Jan took a turn pulling every 2 minutes..Dave Hickey
Jul 18, 2003 11:00 AM
I think that was 2-minute pulls...fcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 11:04 AM
... which is a ton, supposedly where even 1-minute pulls are rare.

From the Le Tour live updates on the TTT . . .jumphress
Jul 18, 2003 11:12 AM
"Laurent Jalabert is watching the race from the back of a motorcycle. He has been following the Bianchi team and has reported that their team leader, Ullrich, has been most impressive today. The 1997 Tour champion has been doing turns of pace at the front of his pack - about 2km at a time..."
Could Ullrichs extreme efforts in TTT left him drained for Mtn?sSwat Dawg
Jul 18, 2003 11:13 AM
I know that the mountains were two stages after the TTT but if he was pulling like that at the front of his team, could that have taken something out of him for the other stages that followed. If so how will he fare tomorrow or was it a nonissue.
Could Ullrichs extreme efforts in TTT left him drained for Mtn?sjumphress
Jul 18, 2003 11:20 AM
He had a few days to recover, but remember that he was sick too! Reportedly he had a fever of 41C (that sounds way too high to me!) on the Alpe d'Huez stage. But he was in no position to hold back on the TTT - you never concede time on the other contenders. Never know if or when you'll get it back.
he was reported to have a stomach virus in the alpsfcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 11:22 AM
according to his team manager.

I don't think he's at a disadvantage tomorrow since he's got the winner's high from today. That feeling that everything is just right.

Uh, I believe I saw it, and posted about it...noveread
Jul 18, 2003 11:25 AM

I posted about how Ullrich looked in the TTT. I mentioned that he and Millar looked the best of anyone I saw. It was clear in the TTT that Ullrich was on great form for chrono efforts at least.

The Empty Wrapper
you did call that one. however...fcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 11:42 AM
... you discredited your post by that Millar comment. It was night and day. Ullrich powered his team and Millar led his team to it's demise. It's not possible to 'look good' in a TTT if your team's time is pathetic. Millar is the leader of that team and he's got to get everybody together. Cut all the biatching and whining too. He's had a good race though since the TTT.

Good call on Ullrich though. He's clearly the quiet leader behind that team. I hope that team can help him in the next few days.

you did call that one. however...noveread
Jul 18, 2003 11:46 AM
Yes, true enough, Millar did destroy his team, but I don't think anyone here considers Millar and Ullrich the same class of rider as far as experience in how to lead a team.

I still stand behind my opinion of how Millar "looked" on the bike. He may have led his team poorly, but he looked good. He was as rock-solid as I have ever seen him in a TT effort in that stage.

The Empty Wrapper
where is Bianchi in the mountains?Spoiler
Jul 18, 2003 5:22 PM
Will Jan need teammates in the Pyranees? Can Bianchi team even help him? If there's more of them around than USPS members, there'll be changes next year.
Jan's team should be well rested . . .jumphress
Jul 18, 2003 5:27 PM
. . . as they all sucked his wheel in the TTT. The ones that could stay on his wheel, that is. ;)
re: Armstrong says Ullrich will win!snowman3
Jul 18, 2003 11:23 AM
The comment about running out of water makes sense. Armstrong's lips were covered in white. It didn't look good. You always want to 2nd guess and wonder if he's playing mind games or something, but I don't think you can fake those white lips (can you?).

Maybe he just got dehydrated today and can still put the hammer down in the mtns.
Ulrich has a 1 minute lead on Lance...fcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 11:51 AM
... because Stage 19 is coming up on July 26. It's 49 km with less climbing. Both riders have to forecast that Ulrich will again win by 1:30. Thus, in the psyche, Ullrich is ahead by 1 minute.

Anyone agree with me on this? Let me put it this way. If there no other stage left but stage 19, Ullrich would win and I would put money on that.

But the mountains are here and that's why it's still Lance's race. Here's where the key is though. Jan does not have to attack. He doesn't have to do squat except stick with Lance. The pressure is all on Lance. Is he man enough?

Don't agree..yet.......Len J
Jul 18, 2003 11:57 AM
Your theory is based on the presumption that both riders put in an equal effort today. One possibility is that Jan knows he is weaker in the mountains and knew that he needed to leave nothing out there on the TT. Lance on the other hand needs to manage his efforts for both the mountains & the TT's.

If Jan believes he has to make up time only in the TT than he is not ahead as you say but rather he didn't put enough into Lance and Vino to make up what he will probably lose in teh mountains.


PS we will know in 2 days.
Lance didn't hold anything back todayjumphress
Jul 18, 2003 12:04 PM
If he did, it was a big mistake.
Why was it a mistake?Len J
Jul 18, 2003 12:13 PM
He put time in everyone but a person who was 2 monutes behind him starting the day who has shown that he can't hang on in the mountains this year.

It will only be a mistake if Jan has been sndbagging.

You don't purposefully lose a ITTjumphress
Jul 18, 2003 12:38 PM
And anyone that has followed Lance knows that he wouldn't. Based on his comments before the ITT, he gave no reason to expect that he would give a below-maximum effort.

If you are dominant timetrialist, as Lance is, you use the ITTs to put time into your opponents. He only put 11 seconds into Vino in the last 34k. And Vino put a lot more than that into Lance in two mountain stages where Lance is supposed to be dominant, as well.

And to follow the logic of the other posters that have said Lance was "saving" something - why didn't he just wheelsuck in the TTT? That would have really saved his legs, right? Sheesh.
You don't purposefully lose a ITTzero85ZEN
Jul 18, 2003 12:53 PM
Look, I'm not saying he went out and sandbagged.

Consider this. Armstrong KNOWS that he is better in the Mts. than Jan. Always has been (post cancer) and probably always will be. He has a smaller engine with almost as much power...and it's all power to weight when the road goes up. I'm absolutly sure he wanted to win today. BUT he didn't HAVE to win the stage to still have a hold on this years Tour.

Jan on the other hand KNOWS he is not as good in the Mts. and is better suited for the TT. Even in his best form he is better suited to be a TT'er. He absoultly HAD to win today to stay in the hunt.

Armstrong didn't go out and ride to take second...but psycologically this TT was less important for him than for Jan. AND he does have an eye towards the next 4 days...he knows that he can make a move in the mountains. Jan doesn't have that luxury.

All things considered. If I could chose who's shoes I'd want to be in, I'd take Lance's. He has FOUR Mt. stages with which to do damage. Not ONE stage like Jan has with the remaining ITT.

That being said, I'm sure Lance did not want to give up 1:36 to the big German!
I guess we'll see how much better Lance is in the mtnsjumphress
Jul 18, 2003 1:19 PM
But it is worth considering that in the last group of mountain stages in 2001, his total advantage was 1:23; in 1999, about a minute. That's not to say he can't better those margins, but we'll have to see. Some of us remember just how good Jan was in the mountains 1996-1998, with the exception of one stage.

If I was Lance, I would want as big a margin as possible, no matter how much better I thought I was. I still think that Postal originally planned to force the selection on the Alpe d'Huez but, for whatever reason, did not. And now they find themselves in a much tighter spot.
You don't purposefully lose a ITTzero85ZEN
Jul 18, 2003 12:59 PM
Proper English would be: ITT

Don't agree..yet.......fcebedo
Jul 18, 2003 12:28 PM
Yes my theory is based on the the presumption ' that both riders put in an equal effort today'.

both riders gave it their best

both riders worked for every second of that time trial

both riders did their best effort for all the marbles.

both riders let it all hang out for the most important TT of both their careers.

I mean, when will all this 'holding back', 'bluffing', 'sandbagging' theories stop. Enough is enough.

Now, were both riders in their best possible form today? Probably not. Who knows. The heat is really bothering Lance. When will the blizzard-man come a calling.

1 stage does not a Tour make (nm)gregg
Jul 18, 2003 11:59 AM
But it certainly makes the Tour more interesting... nmMXL02
Jul 18, 2003 1:54 PM
agree, but if he does it againDougSloan
Jul 18, 2003 3:55 PM
The concept, I think, is that Jan could do this again in the next time trial. If Lance doesn't get a few minutes on Jan before that, Lance is toast.

Ulrich has a 1 minute lead on Lance...svend
Jul 18, 2003 12:05 PM
No, Jan doesn't have to attack but the Spanish riders will be putting in some major efforts and I don't think Jan will be able to hang with them the way Lance can. Lance will let them set the tempo as the rest of the field cracks behind them. Vino is the wild card as he has been riding as on a mission. Either way it is a great one to watch.