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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Armstrong's dominance a lesson
Richard Virenque
Virenque leads Bartoli (right) and Ullrich (left) in the Pyrennees
Lance Armstrong stunned his rivals and seized the yellow jersey with an incredible ascent to Lourdes-Hautacam last Monday.

Former team-mate Sean Yates, now manager of the Linda McCartney Foods cycling team, shares his views on the chasing pack with BBC Sport Online.

Lance Armstrong's performance on Monday in the Pyrennees was incredible. He made everyone else look ordinary.

He effortlessly pedalled away from recognised climbers like Marco Pantani, Fernando Escartin and Richard Virenque - it all looked so easy.

Having said that, I have not been impressed with any of the main contenders other than Armstrong.

Marco Pantani
Pantani could not hide his disgust on Monday
Pantani does not look like the same rider as last year.

He just does not look comfortable on his bike, and he is definitely carrying too much weight.

Poor preparation What did he expect after only racing once in a year? One Giro in a year is not enough preparation for a Tour.

But he is still competitive, and has a tremendous amount of class. I think he will get stronger as the race goes on.

The same is probably true for Jan Ullrich. He has disappointed, but should get stronger and still has the time trial to look forward to.

Ullrich also does not look his best. He has been messing about all year and it shows.

He is another rider with a lot of class, but his preparation has been poor.

Jan Ullrich
Ullrich could not stay with Armstrong's pace
I have heard that all he does is eat biscuits in front of the TV.

Maybe that is understandable. After all he has been part of the East German system since he was 14, which is very early to leave home to concentrate on cycling.

It looks as though as he is fed up with it, and can only motivate himself to get ready for the Tour, but by then it is too late.

Disappointing

We heard a lot before the Tour about Laurent Jalabert and Abraham Olano, but they have been major disappointments.

They both said they were going to be competitive this year, and Jalabert has concentrated his entire season on the Tour.

  Overall standings before stage 12
1. Armstrong, 44 hr 35 min 22 sec
2. Ullrich, +4 min 14 sec
3. Moreau, +5:10
4. Wauters, 5:18
5. Luttenberger, 5:21
6. Beloki, 5:23
Both riders benefited from ONCE's impressive team trial performance in the first week, but they both fell apart in the mountains again.

Every year Olano says he has lost 5 kilos and is now ready to climb. And he'll probably still be saying it in 10 years time when he weighs 20 kilos!

But I think it is obvious now that he will never be able to really challenge in the Tour.

Of the rest France's Christophe Moreau has had a great ride.

We knew all about his time-trialling, but he was very good on Monday behind Armstrong, and he deserves his third place.

Richard Virenque has been chipping away and with the Alps stages to come would clearly like another podium finish in Paris.

But the real story of the Tour so far has been Armstrong's domination. I do not think anyone can catch him.

See also:

03 Jul 00 | Tour de France
04 Jul 00 | Tour de France
03 Jul 00 | Tour de France
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