Six days to go in the Tour de France and it's winding down to an epic battle between two cyclists– for third place.
One, Mickael Rasmussen, right, is thin and wiry. The other, Jan Ullrich, left, looks heavy for a cyclist.
In his online diary posted for Monday's rest day, Ullrich says, “We certainly haven't given up the fight for a podium place. Not by a long shot.”
What happened to not surrendering to Lance Armstrong? I guess it's time for the reality check.
“My aim now has to be the podium,” Ullrich is quoted by the Tour de France 2005 blog. “I can't expect to do any better, but even then it won't be easy overtaking Mickael Rasmussen. He's been the revelation of the Tour so far.”
If Ullrich is gunning for Rabobank's Rasmussen, that means he's shooting for third place. Ivan Basso of Team CSC sits in second place, and he looks like he's going to stay.
So who wins? There is one more stage in the Pyrenees and plenty of climbs in the Massif Central around Le Puy. There's also the time trial at St. Etienne.
Rasmussen is wearing the polka dots of the King of the Mountain. He's obsessed about weight. One of the OLN commentators mentioned that Rasmussen doesn't even like to carry water bottles up a climb.
But Ullrich can handle the mountains too. Plus he's got the Tour's top-ranked team supporting him and he does very well in the time trial. Rasmussen finished in 174th out of 189 the first day TT.
Ullrich has a second-place finish in three tours — 2000, 2001 and 2003. Added with his 1997 Tour de France victory, Ullrich has an enviable record, especially considering he had the bad luck to ride during the Armstrong era. Let's see if Ullrich makes it.
The top 5: Armstrong (1, Discovery); Basso (2, CSC) 2:46 behind; Rasmussen (3, Rabobank) 3:09; Ullrich (4, T-Mobile) 5:58; and Francisco Mancebo (5, Illes Balears) 6:31.