Ullrich storms back in stage 16; Pantani holds onto lead
Posted: Tuesday July 28, 1998 03:18 PM
ALBERTVILLE, France (CNN/SI) -- Wednesday's 16th stage ended in a cliffhanger photo finish when Jan Ullrich of Germany edged Marco Pantani of Italy by about two inches in a duel that had lasted 37 miles (59.5 kilometers).
However, Pantani, who took the yellow jersey from Ullrich with an astonishing ride in Monday's stage, in which he gained almost nine minutes over the German, retained the overall lead and the yellow jersey.
Tuesday's stage traveled 204 kilometers (126 miles) through the Alps from Vizille to Albertville, site of the 1992 Winter Olympics
First, then raced up most of the 13-mile Madelaine peak. Then they covered the last 24 miles downhill at speeds approaching 60 mph.
Only on the final flat stretch of more than six miles did Pantani share the pace-setting with Ullrich to maintain their lead over the others. In the closing sprint, Ullrich edged Pantani at the line.
Ullrich rides for the Telekom team while Pantani for Mercatone Uno.
Bobby Julich of the United States, who was in second entering the day to Pantani, finished 1 minute, 49 seconds behind to hold second place overall, 14 seconds ahead of Ullrich.
Julich trails by 5minutes, 42 seconds in the overall standings with Ullrich at five minutes, 56 seconds. At the beginning of the day, Julich had led Ullrich by 2:03.
Tuesday's stage had five climbs and unlike the wet weather Monday, this stage was run in sunshine nearly the entire 127 miles from Vizille.
Ullrich made a bold move on the final climb, trying to narrow the gap to have a chance in Saturday's time trial. The race ends in Paris on Sunday.
In the last time trial, Ullrich gained 4:21 over Pantani. In last year's final time trial, Ullrich gained nearly four minutes.
France's Stephane Heulot and Germany's Rolf Aldag built a lead of more than six minutes entering the final climb up the Madelaine peak.
But midway up Ullrich looked around broke away from the small group of favorites. Only Pantani followed.
For the rest of the climb, Ullrich looked straight ahead with Pantani riding just behind the German's back wheel.
By the top they had passed Aldag and Heulot and gained about two minutes on the group that included Julich and Fernando Escartin of Spain, third entering the day.
Wednesday's 17th stage is the last full day in the Alps. The 93-mile leg to Aix les Bains features three climbs but ends with a long downhill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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