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Germany

Germany Pins Hopes on Cyclist Ullrich

The German press was predicting on Monday that Lance Armstrong's retirement from cycling opened the way for Jan Ullrich to win his second Tour de France after a gap of nine years. Hopes were high that Ullrich could triumph this year for the first time since 1997, but the German finished more than six minutes behind in third place when Armstrong won an unprecedented seventh title in Paris on Sunday. "Now Armstrong is leaving the course and the world of cycling is wide open for Ullrich -- from here on, it is up to him. "He just has to put a bit more effort in, as Armstrong told him," said the broadsheet Die Welt newspaper. The paper said if it had not been for Armstrong's dominance of the world's greatest cycling race, Ullrich might have won "five or six times." He has been runner-up on five occasions. The top-selling Bild newspaper carried Armstrong's words of advice to Ullrich, whom he advised to be fitter at the start of a race and "lose a kilo and a half." "I really believe Jan can win the Tour again," the Texan said. Bild was also optimistic about 2006. "If Jan is spared bad luck and if he takes Armstrong's words to heart, then everything should work out," the paper said.

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