Levi Leipheimer cruised to victory in the Tour of Germany, ahead homegrown cycling star Jan Ullrich. Though the German's valiant time trial win was not enough, he remains optimistic.
Ullrich finished 31 seconds behind Levi Leipheimer
For the second time in four weeks, Germany's struggling cycling hero Jan Ullrich lost to an American.
After coming in third in the Tour de France as Lance Armstrong seized his seventh, and final, victory, Ullrich finished 31 seconds behind Levi Leipheimer in the Tour of Germany. Leipheimer, the 31-year-old leader of the Gerolsteiner team, cruised to victory after beating Ullrich on a crucial mountain stage last week.
"It's great to win this race," said Leipheimer in Bonn, where the nine-stage race concluded on Tuesday. "The race has matured, and it's one of the best races in the world now."
Ullrich loses in the mountains
Leipheimer, who came in sixth in this year's Tour de France, won the tour's fourth stage, the 2,670 meter Rettenbachferner climb, effectively solidifying his lead over Ullrich. The Rostock native, who was set on winning the tour in his home country, struggled against the American in the mountains, echoing similar lost battles against another American in the Pyrenees and French alps.
"I would have liked to win -- I was 31 seconds short in the end, and that's a pity," said Ullrich. "But I'm very satisfied given the circumstances. I didn't expect to be on the podium as my illness handicapped me."
Jan Ullrich won the time trial on the eighth stage on Monday, but it wasn't enough
Ullrich was able to close the gap between him and Leipheimer from 56 to 31 seconds after his victory in Monday's time trial. But it wasn't enough in the end.
"Gerolsteiner was simply better prepared and overall very strong. They apparently recovered from the Tour de France better than we did," said Ullrich. "We suffered from sickness and the loss of (Alexander) Vinokurov."
Vinokurov switched to team Liberty Seguros after the Tour de France.
The German said he will continue to train this year, but won't be taking part in the street racing world championships in Madrid from Sept 20 to the 25th.