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  Monday, 23 July, 2001, 19:42 GMT 20:42 UK
Yates: Game over for Ullrich
Jan Ullrich
Ullrich found it impossible to stay with Armstrong
British Tour de France hero Sean Yates tells BBC Sport Online how a brave performance from Jan Ullrich will not be enough to stop Lance Armstrong.

After a stunning performance in the mountains, Lance Armstrong has made certain of victory when the Tour ends in Paris on Sunday, according to Sean Yates.

"Barring accidents and illness, it's all over," said the Englishman. "The race has been run.

"The only possible place Ullrich can take time is in the time-trial and Lance is at least equal to him in that."

Ullrich did his best to break Armstrong on the final climb in Stage 14 but the American stayed with him all the way, crossing the line just one metre behind.


Ullrich may try to salvage a win in the time-trial but I doubt Lance will want to be beaten in that
Sean Yates
Armstrong holds a lead of over five minutes with six stages left, but Yates believes Ullrich and the Telekom team have done everything they could to take the initiative.

"Telekom definitely haven't made any mistakes," he said. "They've all been together on the mountains and one goes faster than the others, that's it.

"Lance knew from the outset that Ullrich was the number one contender, so he wasn't going to let him get out of his sight. That means they're going to come to some crucial points together and the strongest is going to win."

Despite conceding defeat by shaking Armstrong's hand when the pair crossed the finish line on Stage 14, Yates believes Ullrich has enhanced an already glowing reputation on this year's Tour.

"Lance has always known that Ullrich is a big talent, from when he first came on the scene in 1994. I remember Lance saying then that Ullrich was a star of the future.

"He's given it his best shot this year. By attacking he's distanced himself from the other contenders for the podium places, which has helped him and made him look good.

"He's attacked until he can attack no more and he's driven his team to the maximum."

Jan Ullrich
Armstrong tracked Ullrich throughout Stage 14
Armstrong was not a recognised climber originally and his dominance in the mountains this year is evidence of the amount of work he has put in to improving what was a weakness.

"The general perception of a climber is someone who's very small and light, but then the likes of Indurain, Lemond and Fignon didn't look like climbers, they just had huge athletic capacities," Yates explained.

"We always knew that Lance had that from the start. Then he lost a lot of weight and really focussed his training and his mind on going up the mountains. He was by no means a climber when he first started."

So the Tour is effectively over with a week still to run. The mountain stages have as usual proved decisive and the idea of moving them to later in the race is an appealing one.

"For the spectacle it's too long a gap from the mountains to Paris," said Yates.

"Possibly they could have put two or three stages in the Massif Central and that would have left them coming out of the Pyrenees on the Wednesday.

"But it's a long way from the Pyrenees to Paris and it's going to be a procession now, a bit of an anti-climax.

"Ullrich may try to salvage a win in the time-trial but I doubt Lance will want to be beaten in that."

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22 Jul 01 | Tour de France
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