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Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
By Shane Stokes in Bern, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan 1997 Tour de France champion Jan...
By Shane Stokes in Bern, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan
1997 Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich has posted a clear warning to his rivals that he is approaching top form with a winning ride in the Tour de Suisse. The T-Mobile leader took both the final stage and the general classification, battling through wet, slippery conditions to overhaul the 50 second overnight deficit to Koldo Gil Perez (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and repeat his 2004 win in the event.
Gil dug deep to try to hand on to his yellow jersey and at the first time check, 14 kilometres into the 30 .7 kilometre race against the clock, he was only 12 seconds back. However Ullrich drew further and further ahead after that point, opening the gap to 35 seconds by the second time check (21.4 km) and then erasing the gap between them soon afterwards. Much as he did in the Giro d’Italia, he continued to accelerate as the stage went on, finally finishing 1 minute and 14 seconds ahead of a disappointed Gil.
Ullrich’s strong ride also saw him overhaul the provisional best time posted by Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto). The Australian finished second in the TT, 23 seconds back, while stage 4 winner Angel Vicioso was a further eight seconds back in third. Jörg Jaksche, who had started the day second overall and was tipped by many as being in with a chance, had a disappointing race to finish tenth in the time trial. He consequently ended the race third overall, 1 minute and 3 seconds behind Ullrich and 39 seconds off the general classification time of Gil.
Ullrich’s win will give the German increased motivation prior to the Tour start in Strasbourg in 13 days time. He will now concentrate on recovering from the event, paring another kilo or two off his increasingly-lean physique and hoping to stay in full health. When he last won the Tour de Suisse two years ago, he caught a cold prior to the Tour and performed below his usual high standards.
Click here for the full results, report and photos from stage 9.