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Road world’s: Ullrich hot favorite in men’s TT

Lance Armstrong would have loved racing on the world time trial championship course here in Lisbon. It's a course that favors strong riders who, like Wednesday's winners Jeannie Longo and Jurgen Van den Broeck, also know how to climb. In Longo's assessment, it is the most difficult world's TT course since the hilly, point-to-point, into-the-head-wind affair at Tunja, Colombia, in 1995. Yes, Armstrong would have loved the 40 turns, 10 climbs and descents, and the 2450 feet of climbing that the 53 elite men will tackle in 38.7km of racing (over two laps) on Thursday. But the Texan hung up his

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By John Wilcockson

Lance Armstrong would have loved racing on the world time trial championship course here in Lisbon. It’s a course that favors strong riders who, like Wednesday’s winners Jeannie Longo and Jurgen Van den Broeck, also know how to climb. In Longo’s assessment, it is the most difficult world’s TT course since the hilly, point-to-point, into-the-head-wind affair at Tunja, Colombia, in 1995.

Yes, Armstrong would have loved the 40 turns, 10 climbs and descents, and the 2450 feet of climbing that the 53 elite men will tackle in 38.7km of racing (over two laps) on Thursday. But the Texan hung up his wheels for the year a month ago, so depriving Jan Ullrich a little revenge for his Tour de France defeat. The German is certainly fired up this week, after taking two recent road race wins in Italy, and Pinarello has made him a new carbon-fiber bike that could see him repeat his 1999 world’s victory — on a much easier course at Treviso, Italy.

Ullrich will start second-to-last on Thursday, one minute in front of defending champion Sergei Gontchar of Ukraine — whose current form doesn’t indicate a repeat. But this will be no walk-over for Ullrich. There are a half-dozen likely challengers, starting with the men who are coming out of the Vuelta a España with hot time-trial form: Santiago Botero of Colombia, Levi Leipheimer of the U.S., David Millar of Great Britain, David Plaza of Spain and Jan Hruska of the Czech Republic.

Also in with a medal chance are Hungary’s Laszlo Bodrogi, French champion Florent Brard and Germany’s Jens Voigt (recent winner of the Grand Prix des Nations TT). Besides Leipheimer, fresh off his podium finish at the Vuelta, the North American contingent can expect some fireworks from Canada’s Roland Green (the world cross-country champion) and Colorado’s Jonathan Vaughters.

Because of the current events in Afghanistan, the U.S team is receiving tight security from the Portuguese police force; and the squad’s Chann McRae (who will ride Sunday’s road race) is driving by road from his Spanish base, rather than risk an unpleasant flying experience.

Look for full reports of the Day 3 time trial at the road world’s on velonews.com on Thursday.