Results tagged “Jan Ullrich” from spare cycles

Ullrich link to Puerto confirmed

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My farewell to Ullrich was touched with the uncertainty of whether or not Ullrich was guilty of doping. Today's confirmation of Ullrich's DNA matching blood in Fuentes' office clears up a whole lot -- especially since the bags were marked "Jan," "N.1", and "Hijo Rudicio" (Son of Rudy). Ullrich's defense has now seized on the last remaining shred of uncertainty to suggest that there is a "manipulation" conspiracy, which fills my head with images of black-clad spy operatives sneaking into Ullrich's apartment late at night and secretly drawing bags of blood while he sleeps.

Farewell, Ullrich

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As suspected, Jan Ullrich has announced his retirement rather than continue his cycling purgatory sans team and license. It's not terribly satisfying as a fan to hear this: if he isn't guilty you would like to cheer and honor his career; if he is guilty you want to feel that justice was somehow indirectly served. Like many of the Operation Puerto cases, you want to know how the sport could be ripped apart on the eve of the Tour de France without a single actual rider being sanctioned.

Instead we are left with the sad knowledge that there are no more Tour de France champions racing. I have a hard time regarding Oscar Pereiro as a TdF champion regardless of any Floyd decision as Pereiro's ascension was a bit of a gigantic-breakaway fluke. Floyd's future in the sport is of course uncertain still.

Ullrich gave us many great Tour de France moments. Perversely, my favorite Ullrich moments were his crashes -- going off the side of the mountain road during stage 13 of the 2001 TdF and his crash on the rain-soaked final TT of the 2004 TdF that cost him another chances at victory. In both cases he got back on the bike and kept on chugging.

Armstrong's final victory, first of this Tour, and a great conclusion to his career. It looked like it would be a close one at the first check, with Basso in front of Armstrong and Ullrich, but by the next check there was no doubt: Armstrong was going to win this one and he would get the stage victory he needed to legitimize his yellow jersey. Armstrong will win this tour by 4:40, not his biggest margin, but a huge margin nevertheless.

Today's victory by Armstrong was all about preparation. While all the other riders were struggling through the technical course with their aerodynamic, rear disc wheels, Armstrong was nimbly picking apart the turns with a much more maneuverable three-spoke rear wheel. The equipment choice seemed to hurt Basso, who looked hesitant on the technical second leg of the course, dropping from seven seconds up in the first time check to 34 seconds behind Ullrich through the second check.

Top 8 finishers (four Americans!) and their gear choices: Hincapie, Evans, Landis, Basso, Julich, Vinokourov, Ullrich, Armstrong

The course was treacherous enough to cause 3rd-now-7th place Rasmussen to disintegrate, crashing twice and switching bikes 4+ times. Rasmussen was the real disaster story of this stage, and I can't ever recall seeing a worse performance by a rider in an individual time trial. Rasmussen wasn't going to hold 3rd place against Ullrich, but his collapse pushed him out of the top five overall. People will remember this stage for both it's great and horrible performances: Armstrong's dominating farewell and Rasmussen's catastrophe.

The Tour may be all but over for Armstrong, but some of the other GC contenders will duke it out tomorrow. Leipheimer broke into the top 5, but Vino had a great performance today and is now only 2 seconds behind him. It should make some of the intermediate sprints more interesting.

Stage 8: Pforzheim-Gerardmer

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photo photo photo

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena/Alessandro Trovati/Ena)

Under Pressure. Big first mountain stage to break in the legs. The GC contenders mostly held together, but the final climb demonstrated that T-Mobile is ready to put the smackdown on Discovery. Vino soften up the yellow jersey by relentlessly attacking Armstrong up the final climb. Ullrich sat on Armstrong's wheel while Kloden launched an attack. Armstrong didn't respond to Kloden's move, and Kloden, catching up to a breakaway by Weening, was able to tag team his way to the finish and gain 0:27 on Armstrong.

photo finishWeening nicked the stage on the line by sitting in Kloden's slipstream for the final kilometer and doing no work. Kloden had more to gain because he would get time in the overall classification, so Weening could play that to his advantage. I would think it's a litle embarrassing for Weening to only win by a hair under those circumstances, but you wouldn't be able to tell with Weening jumping onto the stage to celebrate.

Armstrong probably won't be worrying too much about Kloden's 0:27 time gain as much as (1) T-Mobile has a stronger one-two-three punch than thought with Kloden suddenly on form and (2) his Discovery team disintegrated: after Vino's initial volley there were no teammates left.

Armstrong looked strong and responded as necessary to the attacks that mattered, but he will have to hope his team puts in a better performance in the coming stages or there are going to be some long, lonely climbs ahead. Armstrong is mentioning some "talking" that his team is going to have to do tonight; he also said that he wasn't strong today (coulda fooled me).

The overall standings were cleaned up by this stage. No major riders dropped, but the non-contenders moved down. Also, Discovery lost the white young rider's jersey as Popo gave it over to Karpets, who is a favorite in the competition.

1 Lance Armstrong
2 Jens Voigt 1.00
3 Alexandre Vinokourov 1.02
4 Bobby Julich 1.07
5 Ivan Basso 1.26
6 Jan Ullrich 1.36
7 Carlos Sastre
8 George Hincapie 1.47
9 Andreas Kl�den 1.50
10 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems

ZABRISKIE!

stage1.z.jpg stage1.z.jpg stage1.z.jpg

keyhole.stage1.c.jpgThe opening stage may not matter too much in the long run in terms of time, but in terms of gamesmanship, it's all about showing who's on form and who's not. Riders often hold back on their performances in the races leading up to the Tour, relying on them for training instead. Armstrong, for example, rode the 2005 Tour de Georgia in support of Tom Danielson and he made no serious attempt at the win in the Dauphine. Ivan Basso hasn't been seen in a race since the Giro, so his condition was an even bigger unknown. A strong performance by one of the contenders, namely Armstrong, can easily demoralize the rest of the field and cause them to shift their goals. This year's Tour, in particular, offered a bigger chance than usual to make a big statement. While most Tours start with a short 5-10km prologue, where the end-of-day time gaps are small, this year starts with a mini time trial of 19km, which even allows for the chance the a rider could wear the yellow jersey from start to finish.

So what were today's statements?


photoThe opening time trial was a great win for American cycling: Dave Zabriskie, who started too early in the day to even be featured on TV, set a fast mark that most of the field couldn't even get within a minute of. One exception was Lance Armstrong, who finished two seconds back and at this point already looks set to win his seventh Tour de France. Zabriskie, while not contending for the overall, earned the special distinction of having won a stage in all three grand tours (Tour, Giro, Vuelta) -- all in the past year.

Ullrich started a minute ahead of Armstrong, but things stated to look bad for Armstrong's rival when the referee started pulling away Ullrich's support car to make room for Armstrong's advance. Armstrong caught sight of Ullrich around the first time check and then easily caught and passed him. Despite having the fastest time at the second time check, Armstrong wasn't able to win the stage, so he loses his chance at making history by wearing yellow from start to finish. However, Armstrong will go into Stage 2 with a 1'06" lead on Ullrich and a 1'24" on Basso. Although Ullrich ceded less time than Basso, it had to be the most demoralizing to him as he watched Armstrong easily zoom past him.

Of Armstrong's big rivals, Vino looks the best at only 0'51" back. Given this performance, future stages may have Ullrich working for Vino.

Another American with a big day was George Hincapie. He stayed on form from his Dauphine time trial win and came in 4th, 0'57" back of Zabriskie. Discovery Channel overall did very well, with four riders finishing in the top 20 (even their 'climber' CheChu Rubiera). CSC also did well with four riders in the top 20, but their top man Basso was #20.

  1. Zabriskie David, CSC, USA
  2. Armstrong Lance, Discovery, USA 0'02"
  3. Vinokourov Alexandre, T-Mobile, KAZ 0'53"
  4. Hincapie George, Discovery, USA 0'57"
  5. Bodrogi Laszlo, Credit Agricole, HUN 0'59"

Stage profile and my live stage log from the stage are in the extended.

Prologue: Liege-Liege

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07-03-04.prologue profile

It was a good day for Armstrong, even if he didn't emerge victorious. He put 15' on Ullrich and 16' on Hamilton in the short, seven-minute prologue and finished a close second. (Side note: Phil Liggett, as much as I enjoy his commentary, never seems to know where the finish line is). He looked strong on his bike and I am encouraged at his prospects for this year.

Cancellara showed that he's the man to pull Petacchi towards the finish line. The young, emotional rider was a surprise name to see at the top of the standings, but he put in a strong ride.

Tour de France Stage 19: Pornic-Nantes

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stage profile

-- My Summary -- armstrong photoullrich photoThe stage is set for a dramatic stage today. Millar currently has the fastest time but has said that the last portion of the race should be neutralized as the conditions are glacial and not safe for Armstrong and Ullrich. There have certainly been several crashes already on the day with the road looking extremely slippery in the rain.

Checkpoint 1: Ullrich and Armstrong dead even at 15'41" (Ullrich has the fast time check overall)

armstrong ridingullrich riding25km to go: Armstrong appears to be gaining time on Ullrich with the overall gap at 1'07"

Approaching the second time check: Ullrich has now gained time on Armstrong and the gap is at 1'02"

Checkpoint 2: Ullrich (35'19") is 2 seconds ahead of Armstrong (35'21"). Ullrich still has the fastest time check

Hamilton finishes with the second fastest time so far at 54'14", 9 seconds behind David Millar

ullrich crashULLRICH DOWN! Going through the second half of the roundabout he slips his wheel (it didn't seem like he was taking it too steep) on slippery pavement and sparks fly up from the rear wheel. Ullrich's bike slides into the protective bales on the side of the road. Ullrich quickly gets up and is on his way again.

Armstrong comes through in the same area and manages to fishtail a bit while accelerating but it okay

Checkpoint 3: Ullrich has really lost his pace. He now slips into third behind Millar for the stage. Ullrich's 45'39" is 22" behind Millar. Armstrong seems to have slowed as well - he comes in at 45'29"

Mayo loses 2'02" to Hamilton at the finish line, HAMILTON IS NOW IN 5th PLACE IN THE GC

Zubeldia finishes but not fast enough -> HAMILTON IS NOW 4th PLACE IN THE GC

Vinokourov finishes and loses time to Hamilton, but still retains his third place overall in the GC

Ullrich finishes at 54'30" behind Millar and Hamilton. Armstrong' yellow jersey is almost certainly confirmed

armstrong finishArmstrong finishes at 54'19" behind Millar and Hamilton, pumping his fist at the finish line as he knows that he will win his 5th Tour de France.

In less than eight hours the climatic finish to a great Tour de France will begin. In the overall GC, Ullrich will be chasing Armstrong's lead of 1'07", but on the ground it will be Armstrong chasing Ullrich with the two slated to be the last two riders off the ramp.

Weather predictions call for early rain that may subside, with tail winds pushing the riders towards the finish in Nantes.

Ullrich will be steaming along in a beefy 56x11. This race is all set to be sickeningly fast, with Armstrong predicting a record time for this TT. Regardless, this TdF will go down in the books: * Stage 1-5: Petacchi dominating the early stages, then dropping out in the first mountain stage * Stage 4: US Postal getting their first ever TTT win, with all nine riders crossing the line * Stage 8: Dramatic attacks all the way up Alpe d'Huez that dropped Ullrich but ultimately gave the stage to Mayo * Stage 9: Beloki's awful crash followed by Armstrong's offroading * Stage 12: Ullrich beating Armstrong in the first Time Trial with the only sub-hour performance on the day * Stage 15: Luz-Ardiden - Attack, Attack, Attack, Crash, Slip, Attack * Stage 16: not content to merely finish the TdF, Hamilton picks up a stage win (staying in front for 140km) and is now in position to shoot for a top five overall finish tomorrow * a green jersey competition that will come down to the last day (again) * possibly the fastest TdF ever (not a bad feat for the 100th TdF)

stage profile

A relatively flat stage still managed to provide it's mix of drama. In the first sprint of the day Armstrong and Ullrich followed McEwen out - McEwen predictably won the sprint and picked up six sprint points to move into a tie with Cooke, Ullrich took the 4" time bonus and Armstrong the 2".

From then on it was a sixteen rider breakaway of no one particularly important, but it provided an interesting contrast to yesterday's breakaway. Quick-Step tried to repeat the antics of yesterday's stage win of Knaven. The breakaway group split in two with 20km to go, and with around 10km to go Quick-Step sent Ca�ada off the front. As the chase group did a better job of organizing itself than yesterday, but Ca�ada managed to hold the gap at 5-7" up until 1km to go. With 100m to go and Ca�ada still up front, Da Cruz closed the gap with Nardello and Lastras following. Lastras then outsprinted Da Cruz and Nardello to take the stage.

With Cooke and McEwen tied for the green jersey, the last bit of excitement came in the sprint for 17th place and the final sprint points on the day. Zabel had the early lead in the sprint, but McEwen came off his wheel and took the points. Cooke rode on McEwen's wheels but didn't have the legs to win it out.

(I just got back from Comic-Con this morning - which I'll have plenty of posts from. Trusty TiVo recorded the TdF for me while I was gone, but I've only had time to catch up on the Individual TT and this morning's Stage 15)

stage profile

photoStage 15 was simply awesome. If you thought the attacks on Stage 8 had drama, this morning's stage had all of that and then some.

The drama first started on the Col du Tourmalet (site of last year's Armstrong-Heras-Beloki train). Ullrich attacked 3/4 of the way up, but Armstrong was able to contain the attack. However, damage was being done to Vinokourov who was dropped and did not catch back up until Luz-Ardiden. With neither able to assert an advantage, Armstrong and Ullrich both waited for their teammates to return to the group for the final ascent.

They didn't get to use their teammates for too long as Mayo launched an attack which Armstrong caught up with and continued. Vinokourov was dropped again and wouldn't recover. And then came the watercooler moment of the ascent: Armstrong was leading the attack with Mayo on his back wheel. As he came around a turn, a fan's musette caught his right brake lever and dropped the bike to the group, with Mayo falling on top. CheChu led Armstrong back into the chase group, and Ullrich and Hamilton slowed the chase group to wait for Armstrong's return. As Armstrong bridged back up to the chase group his right foot slipped out of the pedal, making everyone wonder what sort of damage had been done to his bike.

However, rather than pause to switch bikes, Armstrong caught up to the chase group and then launched the final attack of the day, leaving Ullrich unable to respond. Armstrong caught up to Chavanel, gave him a respectful pat on the back, and then continued his climb to the finish line on Luz-Ardiden. Armstrong finally gets his individual stage win of the tour, and on a stage that people hoped he would leave his mark on.

Congrats to Chavanel who dominated the mountains today, but was caught in the final kilometers of Luz-Ardiden.

stage profile

photoThis is backposted as I'm catching up via TiVo on all the Tour de France happenings. The big bullets from this one were:

1) Ullrich is the man and is back in form. He was the only rider to break the hour barrier at 58'32". He is also good at finding air conditioning.

2) Armstrong lost only his second time trial out of eight due to Ullrich's truckin' performance. Armstrong finished second at 1'36" behind. Apparently he lost about 8% of his body weight due to dehydration. He is not as good at finding air conditioning, but probably will be in the future (as he is also much better at eating now).

3) Vinokourov loses 30" to Armstrong.

4) How the hell did Tyler Hamilton pull on his handlebars (and ignore his back pain) long enough to finish 5th? I look forward to seeing him leading his team in future tours at full strength.