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Ullrich still a step away

Ullrich wins the sprint for fifth place at the GP Schwarzwald

Ullrich wins the sprint for fifth place at the GP Schwarzwald (Image credit: Mani Wollner)

Finishing fifth in an extremely difficult GP Schwarzwald on Saturday, then making the winning break the following day at the GP Kanton Aargau/ Gippingen, where he eventually finished second, Jan Ullrich is edging ever closer to reaching top form - but believes a small improvement is still required to attain optimal condition.

"It's going fine. Today [Sunday], for the first time this year, I'm standing on the podium. This shows my form is on the rise," said Ullrich on

About the slightly more demanding GP Schwarzwald the day before, which was won by Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann, Ullrich admitted "it was an extra-tough race, so I'm quite satisfied. I was close to the max, but didn't want to go any further.

"It was clear from the beginning this [race] was going to be very tough. Unfortunately, we just missed out on the podium. It was as it always is in Germany: everybody was holding my wheel. I still felt a bit tired. My training in the Pyrenees with 10,000 metres [of vertical climbing] was no walk in the park, either. So fifth place isn't bad."

Added his team-mate Tobias Steinhauser: "Everybody in the team fulfilled their role. We tried everything to bring Jan to the front. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out. Everybody was holding Jan's wheel, so it was hard to escape alone. Jan is increasingly finding his form. I'm optimistic about the Tour."

On his previous week's efforts in the Pyrenées, Ullrich said: "Improvements from the training in the Pyrenées have started to show already. It is good to be familiar with the mountains of the Tour; it's not only about the climbing - the descents are equally important. You have to know the tricky passages.

"I feel the direction is right and the form is coming. However, my season highlight will be no sooner than in four weeks. I'm still one step away from my Tour form, but there's still a little time left."

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