Ullrich impresses in Swiss TT

Victory in the final time trial at the Tour of Switzerland gives Jan Ullrich the narrowest of overal

Victory in the final time trial at the Tour of Switzerland gives Jan Ullrich the narrowest of overal
The Tour de France prologue is only two weeks away and once more, the in-form Jan Ullrich seems to have got his timing right, despite another difficult spring. Victory in the Tour of Switzerland will have buoyed the German's confidence and done much to repair the damage caused first, by troubled relations within the T-Mobile management set-up and, more recently, by the injury to his 'partner in crime' at the German team, Alexandre Vinokourov. It's certain that 'Vino' will miss the 2004 Tour. Yet all that - plus the usual weight scares - don't appear to have hampered Ullrich's Tour build-up. And even Rudy Pevenage, his personal coach, admits to being impressed. "There were moments when I was pretty worried," Pevenage said. "In the beginning of April, we had set the Flche Wallonne and Lige-Bastogne-Lige as races to show that everything was going well, but things were not going well. You had to be blind not to see that Jan was still too heavy." "He was upset, because he was putting in the kilometres but he wasn't seeing the results and wasn't seeing the winter weight come off," Pevenage explained. "But from mid-April to the beginning of the Tour of Germany in June, he really doubled his effort." Ullrich's improvement has stunned his peers. "He is just gliding through the other riders," British professional Bradley Wiggins, who also rode the Tour de Suisse, told The Observer newspaper today (Sunday). "It's awesome. He was putting the best riders here under a lot of pressure and his team have been strong too." "There have been some tough mountain stages and he's been comfortable at the front. If Ullrich is on this form and Lance Armstrong isn't as good as in the past, it could mean that we're in for a Tour that is at least as exciting as last year's."
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