Jan Ullrich rebounded from the illness that has plagued him for the last week to prove he is still emperor of the time trials by winning the penultimate stage of the Tour of Germany, a 31.1km test between Ludwigshafen and Weinheim.
Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer retained the overall lead despite finishing third to Ullrich, 54 seconds down. CSC's Bobby Julich was second, 12 seconds behind Ullrich.
It was obvious from the first time check that Ullrich was on a scorcher, passing the 10km mark seven seconds faster than Julich. When Leipheimer reached the same point a couple of minutes later he was 13 seconds slower, but on track to retain enough of his 1:26 margin to hang on to the lead.
Ullrich and Julich were almost neck-and-neck at the 18.8km time check, with just two seconds separating the faster German from the American TT specialist. Leipheimer was 26 seconds down and by the 25.5km mark Ullrich had gained another 19 seconds. A powerful ride, but not quite enough to take the lead.
"Today we finally had a little luck with the weather!" said Ullrich, who has clearly not been enjoying the cold and rain that have marked this Tour of Germany. "I wasn't able to get Leipheimer in the end, but I'm still very happy."
Today's final stage is an almost-flat 168km from Bad Kreuznach to the former West German capital of Bonn and Ullrich conceded that he would not be able to wrest the lead from Leipheimer on the final day. "I'm not the sprinter who can get all the intermediate time bonuses," he said. "Tomorrow, Gerolsteiner will control the race - they're very strong so today was my last chance."