The Tour hopes of Ullrich fans will have taken a knock after the Deutschland Tour’s first key mounta
The excitement of the first few days at the D-Tour that Jan Ullrich is back to his best and ready for this year’s Tour de France died down somewhat on Wednesday after the T-Mobile rider failed to follow the front group on the final climb of the day’s stage. Instead, the media proved their fickleness, turning their attention to stage winner and new overall leader Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick Step), hailing him as one to watch for the future. A grim-faced Ullrich crossed the line 1.14 down on his 23-year-old compatriot, stopping only briefly to speak to the media. “I’m not unsatisfied with my performance today,” Ullrich said, not wholly convincingly. “I’m still in the race for the overall.” Asked about his T-Mobile team-mate Andreas Kloden, who finished fourth on the stage, 34 seconds down on Sinkewitz, Ullrich, ever the diplomat, replied, “He tried to go with the break, and of course he was right to do so,” before heading off to his team bus. Cynics might hope for infighting in the T-Mobile squad at this summer’s Tour de France; the team has been described as having too many chiefs and not enough indians. But Alexandre Vinokourov, third at last year’s Tour, and also racing at the D-Tour, proved his inconsistency once again today, dropping from tenth overall to 52nd after coming home in 75th place, 23.41 down on Sinkewitz. The team maintains that Ullrich will soon be race-fit, and that everyone will pull together and ride for him in July in the hope of ending Lance Armstrong’s reign. But with only 31 days left before the start of the Tour, it’s time for Ullrich to start showing everyone who’s boss.