Ullrich's time trial control
Americans Hamilton, Julich round off the podium
Posted: Saturday July 18, 1998 01:57 PM
CORREZE, France (CNN/SI) -- Jan Ullrich of Germany, the defending champion of the Tour de France, finally made his presence felt when he won the time trial Saturday to take the stage and the overall yellow jersey.
However, Ullrich's victory in the 58 kilometer (3 mile) stage which stretches from Merygnec l'Eglise to Correze in a time of one hour 15 minutes and 25 seconds was overshadowed by last nights expulsion of the Festina team from the tour.
Two Americans, Tyler Hamilton and Bobby Julich placed second and third respectively in the stage.
Jacques Chirac, the French president, was at the finish to congratulate Ullrich, as the young German took over the yellow jersey, emblematic of the overall lead by one minute 18 seconds over Bo Hailton, who rides for the US Postal team, was fifth overall, 1:30 behind just after Laurent Jalabert of France, 1:24 back of Ullrich.
Yet Ullrich's victory was overshadowed by the events that took the runner-up from last year, Richard Virenque of France, and his Festina team out of the race.
Last year, Ullrich won by more than nine minutes over Virenque and beat him by more than three minutes in a time trial.
Saturday, a tearful Virenque said his team decided to follow the tour's request to leave the race after the doping scandal that found three Festina officials under police investigation.
"It's better we stop the tour now," Virenque said. "From a judicial point of view, we could participate but we decided not to continue.'
The director of the Tour de France Jean-Marie Leblanc said he would have allowed the Festina riders to participate in Saturday's time trial in south-central France but their times would not be considered in the standings.
Later, Festina riders met with Leblanc near the circuit after the race started and decided not to participate in the race.
The Festina team was leading the Tour de France and also had two of the individual favorites, in Virenque and Alex Zuelle.
Virenque, second and third in the Tour the last two years, threatened legal action to pursue racing after first hearing of the ban but then backed down.
In Lille on Friday, Roussel and team doctor Erik Ryckaert were placed under investigation for importing prohibited substances and other counts connected to the drug scandal.
The two joined Willy Voet, a Festina team trainer jailed July 9 after customs officers found a stash of anabolic steroids and EPO in Voet's car bearing Festina emblems.
Virenque had won the top climber award of the Tour the last fouryears with Voet as his personal trainer.
A statement by Roussel through his lawyer said the Festina management, doctors, masseurs and cyclists were involved in the scheme to supply riders with drugs.
"The object was to optimize performances under strict medical control" the statement said, 'in order to avoid cyclists personally and uncontrollably supplying themselves under conditions that could be bad for their health.'
EPO, among the drugs found in Voet's car, is a substance that aids the transport of oxygen within the blood stream and is difficult to detect.
Sunday's 190.5 kilometer (118 mile) stage is between Brive la Gaillarde and Montauban.
There are two more weeks of the race before it ends in Paris on August 2. The remaining racers hit the Pyrenees on Tuesday then cross southern France before getting to the Alps a week from Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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