Jan Ullrich confident he can defeat Armstrong

1st July 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 July 2005, FROMENTINE, FRANCE - T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich is confident he can add to his single Tour de France win achieved in 1997, before six-time winner Lance Armstrong dominated the sport like no cyclist before him, when the 2005 edition starts on Saturday in Fromentine.

1 July 2005

FROMENTINE, FRANCE - T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich is confident he can add to his single Tour de France win achieved in 1997, before six-time winner Lance Armstrong dominated the sport like no cyclist before him, when the 2005 edition starts on Saturday in Fromentine.

"This year everything has gone perfectly and there were no injuries," said the 31-year-old east German. "I'm delighted that it's about to begin now."

Ullrich has finished second five times in cycling's most prestigious race, and on three of those occasions - 2000, 2001 and 2003 - it was Armstrong who rode down the Champs Elysees on the final day wearing the leader's yellow jersey.

But this time, Ullrich - like many of this year's competitors - is looking forward to a final chance to inflict a Tour defeat on Armstrong in the American's final professional race.

"For everyone, and especially for me, it's a big motivation to beat the great Lance," Ullrich told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "I'm going to try everything to try and achieve this. He is the big favourite but also the prey."

Ullrich's T-Mobile team have set their stall out for a Tour win this year, dispensing with sprinter and six-time green jersey winner Eric Zabel and instead concentrating on sending a team strong enough to isolate, attack and defeat Armstrong's Discovery team.

Alongside Ullrich will be last year's runner-up Andreas Kloeden and the man who took third place overall in 2003, Alexandre Vinokourov.

"We have assembled a top team and have decided on a different strategy this year," admitted Ullrich. "By dispensing with Erik Zabel we are competing this year without a sprinter, and are going all out for the overall prize."

Ullrich won't be easing himself into this year's race because with the first stage a 19-kilometre individual time trial instead of the usual prologue, valuable seconds are there for the taking.

"You naturally want a good start and with good form you can gain something," he said of the stage from Fromentine to the island of Noirmoutier.

"But it's also important for one's own strategy," he continued, "to show that we are feeling good and won't lose any time before the mountain stages.

"A small lead and no deficit would be a good objective for going into the mountains."

Ullrich expects Armstrong to be as strong this year as in previous years but feels, like everyone, he has his weaknesses and can be attacked.

"I think he'll be very strong this year," said Ullrich, who admitted he'll miss the challenge the American lays down to the others each year.

"Otherwise he wouldn't have risked going to the start line. But he also has weaknesses and, if he shows them, then we'll exploit them.

"New Year. New chance."

DPA

Subject: German news

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