Armstrong beats Ullrich on his way to fifth Tour win
NANTES, France, July 26 (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong tamed arch-rival Jan Ullrich in the decisive 49-km time trial on the penultimate day of the Tour de France on Saturday and was almost certain of winning a record-equalling fifth title.
For the first time since his maiden Tour victory in 1999 after returning from a near-fatal cancer, the American did not win the last time trial of the Tour, but he beat 1997 champion Ullrich by 11 seconds.
Overall, Armstrong leads his German opponent by 1:16 before Sunday's easy 152-km stage from Ville d'Avray to Paris and only a disaster could now stop him from becoming the fifth rider to win five Tours.
The stage was won in 54:05 by Briton David Millar, who crashed but still was the fastest on a course made slippery by constant rain.
A crash also ruined Ullrich's hopes of overall victory. The German slid out of contention at a roundabout 15 km from the finish and lost his confidence, finishing 25 seconds behind Millar.
American Tyler Hamilton was second in the stage, nine seconds behind Millar, and Armstrong third, 14 seconds adrift.
France's Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgian Eddy Merckx and Spain's Miguel Indurain are the only riders to have won five Tours.
Indurain's five victory's were in successive years from 1991 to 1995.
Armstrong had been humbled by Ullrich in the first time trial of the Tour in Cap Decouverte a week ago, losing by 96 seconds.
But the first timed test took place in stifling heat, which the American hates, while he relishes bad weather, as was the case in Nantes.