By Andrew Hood
Jan Ullrich, of the Coast team, claimed his first victory in 18 months on Monday attacking 55km from the finish to win the 88th edition of the Tour of Cologne.
Ullrich, the 29-year-old Olympic champion and the only German to have won the Tour de France (1997), recently returned from a long lay-off due to a drugs ban and undergoing operations on a troublesome knee. In his first competition on native soil in 19 months, a slimmed down Ullrich showed he could soon be a force to be reckoned with by initiating a breakaway with around 55km to go on one of the 203km course’s numerous small climbs.
He held on to his lead for the remainder of the race route, which was lined with thousands of spectators, and held a steady 44.026 kph to finish with a lead of just under two minutes on his closest rival. Compatriot Danilo Hondo dominated a sprint finish ahead of Austrian Peter Wrolich, last year’s winner, to finish at 1min 52sec. “I’ve never won a race so early in the season,” declared Ullrich at the finish.
Ullrich’s last win goes back to the Lisbon, in October 2001 when he pipped Britain’s David Millar to win the world time trial title. His ban expired on March 23, and he has since raced in the Circuit de la Sarthe and last week’s Tour of Aragon.
88th one-day Tour of Cologne
1. Jan Ullrich (G), Coast
202.3km in 4:35:40
2. Danilo Hondo (G), at 1:52
3. Peter Wrolich (A), same time
4. Bert Scheirlinckx (B), s.t.
5. Steffen Radochla (G), s.t.
6. Joern Reuss (G), s.t.
Vinokourov remembers Kivi’
Alexandre Vinokourov’s inspiration victory in Sunday’s Amstel Gold race gave the Kazakh another occasion to remember his fallen friend and comrade Andrei Kivilev, who died in a crash in Paris-Nice.
“I’m very happy to win this race on the 40th day since Kivilev’s death. He’s still in my heart,” Vinokourov told Eurosport TV after winning his first classic. Vinokourov’s played the perfect card at Amstel, attacking the lead group with 5km to go and holding out up the steep Cauberg climb.
“I knew I couldn’t sprint in the climb so I went for it,” Vinokourov told French television. “When I saw that last kilometer, I went for it. I’ve waited a long time. Especially after Paris-Nice, I often finish second, third, but I said I could win a classic one day.”
Van Petegem retains World Cup lead
Although he finished out of the points at Amstel Gold, Peter Van Petegem enters Liege-Bastogne-Liege confident knowing he’ll hold the World Cup lead until August unless Italian Dario Pieri can win.
Van Petegem finished 80th at 3:41 back after winning the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix back to back, the first rider to do it since 1977. Van Petegem admitted he didn’t have the same legs he did on the cobbles, but vows to race at Liege to protect his hold on the overall lead.
The World Cup series takes a back seat until August to the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.Individual World Cup Standings, after four rounds
1. Peter Van Petegem (B) – 200 points
2. Dario Pieri (I) – 117
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kz) – 100
4. Paolo Bettini (I) – 100
5. Michael Boogerd (Nl) – 90
6. Mirko Celestino (I) – 86
7. Serguei Ivanov (Rus) – 79
8. Frank Vandenbroucke (B) – 77
9. Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) – 74
10. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) – 63
11. Luca Paolini (I) – 59
12. Fabio Baldato (I) – 55
13. Erik Zabel (G) – 54
14. Danilo Di Luca (I) – 50
15. Fr?d?ric Guesdon (F) – 46
16. Nico Mattan (B) – 43
17. Davide Rebellin (I) – 40
18. Oscar Freire (Sp) – 40
19. Marc Wauters (B) – 40
20. Romans Vainsteins (Lat) – 40
21. Mario Cipollini (I) – 40
22. Matthias Kessler (G) – 36
23. Andrea Tafi (I) – 36
24. Francesco Casagrande (I) – 32
25. Bernhard Eisel (A) – 30
Kirsipuu takes Vendee
Estonian sprinting ace Jaan Kirsipuu (ag2r) won his sixth race of the season after taking Sunday’s Tour de Vendee. Kirsipuu’s win also keeps him in the overall lead in the French Cup series.
Tour de Venee
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), Ag2r, 194km in 4:12:25
2. Carlos Da Cruz (F), Fdjeux.com
3. Jerome Pineau (F), La Brioches
4. Anthony Geslin (F), Brioches
5. Andy Flickinger (F), Ag2r – all same time
Teams for Fleche Wallone
Twenty-five teams will start Wednesday’s 67th Fleche Wallone semi-classic in Belgium. There are six Belgian and Italian teams, three each from Spain, France and Germany, and one each from Denmark, Holland, the United States and Switzerland.
Brioches la Boulangere
U.S. Postal Service