Final Time Trial Changes Final Podium
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The final individual time trial of the Tour de France is always an exciting day. The men who excelled in the mountains risk losing positions to men who are better against the clock. The overall contenders sometimes have their last chance to challenge for the yellow jersey as well, but this year saw more of a last chance to climb onto the final podium in Paris.
For Jan Ullrich to move into third place today, he either needed an absolutely super-human performance or one of the riders ahead of him in the general classification to utterly fall apart. Neither happened, and for the first time in Ullrich’s seven years at the Tour de France, he will finish lower than second place. Finishing fourth overall this year may provide the German with the motivation he needs to really put everything together and come back to mount a serious challenge for the yellow jersey next year. Of course, we’ve said something similar every year since he won the Tour back in 1997.
T-Mobile’s Andrée;as Klöden, motivated by the opportunity to move up to second overall in the Tour, actually came close to beating his team captain this afternoon. In the process of finishing just 26 seconds behind Ullrich, Klöden rode 1:23 faster than Ivan Basso. The CSC rider started the day in second place behind Armstrong, just 1:02 ahead of Klöden. Even though he had a great personal performance this afternoon, Basso lost second place by just 21 seconds.
If all goes according to plan tomorrow, Lance Armstrong will stand atop the Tour de France podium for a record-breaking sixth time. Beside him, though, will be two new faces. Three weeks ago, Ivan Basso was seen as an outside threat to stand on the final podium, and Andrée;as Klöden was even further down the list of potential challengers. Today they rode great time trial performances to deny Jan Ullrich a place on the podium, and they have confirmed their positions as Tour de France favorites.