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German Press Review: Ullrich Sets Standards for Sport

Jan Ullrich's return to the limelight at the Tour de France filled plenty of column inches in the German newspapers on Monday as did the latest developments in the Philippines and the Middle East.

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Second-placed Jan Ullrich earns the admiration of the Germans.

Although the American Lance Armstrong celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France by winning the world's most famous bicycle race for the fifth time, the German press have heaped praise on second-placed Jan Ullrich, who made a sensational comeback after suffering a knee injury and a doping ban, which nearly ended his career.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung said Ullrich has earned even more public admiration than he did during his Tour de France victory in 1997. He fought off a cold in the earlier stages of the race and thrust aside any idea of quitting. His display of fair play when he held back after Armstrong crashed has set standards not just for the tour and the other riders, but for the whole sport, the paper maintained.

The Rheinische Post in Düsseldorf asked if Germany was a nation of the broken-hearted after Jan Ullrich failed to win the Tour de France. He crashed in the final time trial and his dream of victory was dashed. Millions of people in this country felt for him, the paper wrote. "Poor Jan Ullrich. Rich Jan Ullrich -- for he has won a great victory, a victory over himself!"

The Financial Times Deutschland said the abortive putsch in the Philippines has cast a shadow over President Arroyo's government, but she can rely on the upper echelons of the military, who brought her to power two years ago to continue to support her. Then, as now, she lacked the backing of the population, the paper wrote. When the military put her in place of the corrupt, but popular Estrada, it failed to summon up the courage to call for fresh elections. Arroyo has been unable to rid herself of her image as a puppet of the military, the paper said. In spite of recent economic recovery, she has been unable to combat poverty. The Philippines, as is the case in many South American countries, remains dominated by an elite of wealthy landowners.

The Neue Presse published in Hanover turned to another of the world's trouble spots, the Middle East. Israel's decision to remove road blocks, release Palestinian prisoners and withdraw troops from the West Bank is a gesture of good will, the paper commented. It said the gesture was made with the United States in mind, because Washington has several reasons to step up its involvement in the Middle East. Confronted with a record public deficit and a guerrilla war in Iraq, Washington is well aware of the importance of success in the Holy Land. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is seen as the key problem in a politically fragile region and also as instrumental in the fight against terrorism. Anyone who helps to resolve it, will gain in stature in the Middle East, in Europe and at a home, something that is not unimportant for an American president who wants to be re-elected in 2004, the paper concluded.

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