Time is definitely running out for Jan Ullrich as he bids to add a second Tour de France title to the one he picked up in 1997.
Best Tour: Winner - 1997
And the omens have not been necessarily good with third this time around.
He's made the usual right noises - the "Tour is the race I want to win" and "I'm training to be the best there is".
But in 2005 he simply wasn't good enough and only his time trialling enabled him to claw his way onto the podium in Paris.
A virus during pre-season caused him to put his season debut back by a month to the start of April but he now looks to be hitting top form.
He also had a very public spat with T-Mobile boss Walter Godefroot at the end of last season after Godefroot said Ullrich "cycled to live", while Armstrong "lives to cycle".
Their often tempestuous relationship looks calm once again and Ullrich has the required back-up to shine in 2006... and more importantly no Armstrong to ride against.
This year, his race was affected by two major crashes - one in training before stage one - while some suggested his private life may have affected his mental state.
He broke up with his partner of 11 years and the mother of his child two months before the race start.
The German won the event in 1997 and has generally been Armstrong's nearest contender since then.
There is no denying the German is an extremely talented cyclist. He was second to team-mate and team leader Bjarne Riis in 1996 before going one better in 1997.
He has since played the role of bridesmaid except for 2002 when he was banned after testing positive for amphetamines.
Ullrich has also suffered from a host of injuries and has tried to get himself back into shape to compete with Armstrong.