By Hedwig Kröner
After the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, in which Lance Armstrong finished fourth at 0'59 behind winner Inigo Landaluze (Euskaltel) and where the six-time Tour de France winner described himself as not being "explosive and able to make a selection", his biggest opponent, 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), was very happy with his yesterday's Tour de Suisse individual time trial win, which earned him the Yellow leader's jersey. "The victory in front of all of these fans was great," Ullrich said post-stage. "I wanted to reach my limit, and that worked out perfectly for me, even if my form isn't at Tour de France level yet."
Ullrich, who was well ahead of other specialists Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux, at 0'15), Michael Rogers (Quick.Step, at 0'18), Fabian Cancellara (Fassa Bortolo, at 0'39) and Serguei Gonchar (Domina Vacanze, at 0'40), also said that the settings of his Giant time trial bike had been improved since the Vuelta a Aragon. Armstrong, on the other hand, lost a few seconds to the Dauphiné time trial winner Santiago Botero (Phonak), 26 to be precise, to place third in that important pre-Tour test, and said he wasn't "overwhelmingly pleased" with his result, but nevertheless "on schedule". Armstrong now plans to recon some Tour stages and further build up his form by specific training, as he told Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney in an exclusive interview.
Meanwhile, at the Tour de Suisse, "Jan made a good and powerful impression," T-Mobile directeur sportif Mario Kummer said about his rider after the time trial yesterday, which admittedly included less climbing than its Dauphiné counterpart in Roanne. "It's important that his form increases steadily. The Tour de Suisse has a high status, but whether we will defend the Yellow jersey remains to be seen. I'll see what Jan can do once he reaches his limits."
Today's stage three of the Tour de Suisse will take the riders up the Arlberg-Pass at 1,793 m to finish in the famous ski resort St. Anton. Look out for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the event, starting at 14.30 pm CET.