Spain’s Miguel Indurain, the only rider to have won the Tour de France five times in a row (1991-95) believes Germany’s Jan Ullrich has it in him to beat four-time winner Lance Armstrong.
The 32-year-old Armstrong (U.S. Postal) will equal Indurain’s achievement if he wins this year’s centenary race, which is being held July 5-27.
Ullrich has only recently returned to competition after a difficult year in which he sat out a ban for taking recreational drugs, left his long-time Telekom team, then joined Team Coast only to see the outfit collapse after a suspension because of its financial insecurity.
Now with the Italian Bianchi team, which formed around him after the collapse of Coast, 29-year-old Ullrich has been given a boost by the man they called “Big Mig.”
“Jan Ullrich can beat Lance Armstrong, I’m sure of it,” said Indurain in an interview with Welt Am Sonntag. “Both of them are complete riders. Armstrong has a few weak points in the time trials while Ullrich has to improve his climbing.”
Ullrich, who won the 1997 Tour and has finished second an amazing four times, has already stated that he will be no match for Armstrong this year and is only aiming for a stage win. But Indurain feels the German giant has still to show his class.
“I think that Ullrich has learned his lesson,” he said. “Today’s he’s at a good age, and physically he is a giant. If he starts to believe more in himself, he can beat Armstrong.” – Copyright 2003/AFP
Bolts to retire at season’s end
Veteran German rider Udo Bolts is to retire at the end of this season after a distinguished 14-year career, he announced on Saturday.
Bolts, who will be 37 in August, is set to contest his 12th Tour de France next Saturday. He was instrumental in the victories of then-Telekom teammates Bjarne Riis in 1996 and Jan Ullrich a year later. His best result in the world’s greatest cycling race was ninth overall in 1994.
However, Bolts, who now rides for Gerolsteiner, told Stuttgart newspaper Sonntagaktuell his reason for retiring was his lack of speed on the descents.
“I can still mix it with the best in the mountains,” said Bolts, who turned professional in 1989. “However it is when we start to descend to the flat parts that it is becoming difficult.”
The three-time German road race champion had his best individiual season in 1996 when he won the San Sebastian Classic and the Criterium Dauphiné Liberé. – Copyright 2003/AFP
Garzelli skipping Italian championships
Stefano Garzelli will not be competing in Sunday’s Italian road race championships, his Vini Caldirola team said.
The 2000 Tour of Italy champion has a sore throat after intense training for the Tour de France, which starts next Saturday, and wants to avoid overtraining.
A Vini Caldirola spokesman said: “A mixture of circumstances means he is unlikely to be competitive on a course which does not really suit him.”– Copyright 2003/AFP
Huguet wins French road-race title
Sonia Huguet (UCB Houiller) won the French national road-race championship on Saturday, breaking away to finish 1:24 ahead of runner-up Maryline Salvetat (VSLL Castres). Delphine Guille (VC Sébastiennais) took third at 1:29.
1. Sonia Huguet, UCB Houiller, 97.3km in 2:38:41 (36.79 kph)
2. Maryline Salvetat, VSLL Castres, at 1:24
3. Delphine Guille, VC Sébastiennais, at 1:29
4. Juliette Vandekerckhove, VC Robaix, at 1:38
5. Corine Sempe, Lescar Vélo Sprint, same time
6. Magali Le Floch, Rona-Esker, s.t.
7. Sophie Creux, Chambéry Formation, s.t.
8. Nadia Triquet, UC Vallée du Hure, s.t.
9. Sandrine Marcuz, s.t.
10. Marina Jaunatre, VS Valletais, s.t.
Goussev wins Russian TT crown
Vladimir Goussev won the Russian national time trial crown Friday after beating Alexander Bespalov and Vladimir Borissov over a distance of 32km. Bespalov came second at 21seconds with Borissov third at 0:53.– Copyright 2003/AFP