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Ullrich still confident

Jan Ullrich may have received a punishing blow from Lance Armstrong on Monday but the Bianchi team leader took it in stride, saying the Tour de France's 15th stage had not been "too negative." "In the past, when Armstrong did his thing in the mountains, I would lose two minutes,” Ullrich said. “I only lost one minute this time. So that's not too negative." Ullrich, who had upset the four-time Tour winner in the Gaillac to Cap'decouverte time trial last Friday, finished third in Monday’s stage to Luz-Ardiden , 40 seconds behind the American and now trails him by 1:07 overall. "I'm a little

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By Reuters

'Well, I tried,' said Ullrich of his attack on the Tourmalet.

‘Well, I tried,’ said Ullrich of his attack on the Tourmalet.

Photo: Graham Watson

Jan Ullrich may have received a punishing blow from Lance Armstrong on Monday but the Bianchi team leader took it in stride, saying the Tour de France’s 15th stage had not been “too negative.”

“In the past, when Armstrong did his thing in the mountains, I would lose two minutes,” Ullrich said. “I only lost one minute this time. So that’s not too negative.”

Ullrich, who had upset the four-time Tour winner in the Gaillac to Cap’decouverte time trial last Friday, finished third in Monday’s stage to Luz-Ardiden , 40 seconds behind the American and now trails him by 1:07 overall.

“I’m a little disappointed not to have taken second place because it would have given me more of a time bonus,” said Ullrich, who was outsprinted by Euskaltel’s Iban Mayo for second place. “But I could not go any faster. I knew Lance would attack today but I could not follow him when he did. I just climbed at my own pace, trying to limit the damage. I’m not an explosive climber like he is. I need a steady pace.”

Ullrich tried to test the American in the penultimate climb of the day, the Tourmalet, but could not drop his arch-rival.

“Well I tried,” Ullrich said. “It did not work but it allowed me to test his real worth.”

Later in the stage, when Armstrong crashed after hitting a spectator’s bag, he respected a Tour tradition and let him return on his bike.

Ullrich avoided the crash, but refused to attack

Ullrich avoided the crash, but refused to attack

Photo: Reuters

“I have never in my life attacked someone who had crashed. That’s not the way I race,” he said.

But the Olympic road champion made it clear he would fight until the bitter end in Paris on Sunday.

“It’s still a wide open race,” Ullrich noted. “Wednesday after the rest day, we’ll have a very difficult stage as well, even if it finishes in the valley. And as for the time trial, I’m very confident.”

Ullrich beat Armstrong by 1:30 in last week’s 47km time trial and remains confident that he can do the same in Saturday’s 49km test against the clock.

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