Germany's Jan Ullrich has for the second time won the Tour de Suisse, the final warm-up for cycling's most prestigious event, the Tour de France.This content was published on June 18, 2006 - 19:04
The race's 70th anniversary will go down as the worst performance ever by the host nation, with not one Swiss rider finishing in the top 20.
Ulrich, a 32-year-old from Rostock, tied up the race in Bern on Sunday evening with a commanding victory in the final stage's time trial that proved too much for yellow jersey holder Koldo Gil Perez of Spain.
Ullrich, who in 1997 became the first German to win the Tour de France, finished the rain-soaked 30.7-kilometre individual time trial from Kerzers in 38 minutes, 45 seconds. That gave him a total time of 38 hours, 21 minutes, 36 seconds.
Gil crossed the slippery cobblestones in ninth, 1 minute, 14 seconds behind – enough for second overall, 24 seconds behind Ullrich.
Jörg Jaksche, who was second after eight stages, finished third, 1 minute, 3 seconds behind his fellow German. Jaksche was 10th in the stage, 1 minute, 23 seconds off the pace.
Ullrich, who had been third behind Gil in the standings after the eighth stage on Saturday, only needed to make up 50 seconds for the win.
Second in the time trial was Cadel Evans of Australia, 23 seconds behind Ullrich. He was followed by Angel Vicioso of Spain, 31 seconds behind.
Last year's winner Aitor Gonzales didn't defend his title after testing positive last autumn for doping. The Spaniard is still sitting out his suspension.
The last Swiss winner was Alex Zülle in 2002, while other recent victors were Pascal Richard (1994), Beat Breu (1989 and 1981) and Urs Zimmermann (1984).
The Tour de Suisse, along with the Dauphiné Libéré event in France, is the last major stage race before the gruelling French race on July 1.
Ullrich must be a leading contender to reach the Champs-Elysées first now that his nemesis Lance Armstrong, who won the race a record seven consecutive times from 1999 to 2005, has hung up his cycling shoes.
swissinfo with agencies
The Tour de Suisse, which was first run in 1933, is the biggest cycling race on the Swiss calendar.
This year the riders covered 1,438 kilometres and eight mountain passes as they travelled from Baden to Bern.
The Tour de Suisse is part of the ProTour, the International Cycling Union's race series. The Tour de Romandie is also on the ProTour circuit.
Participation is compulsory for the 20 best-ranked teams.
Final results of the Tour de Suisse 2006:
1. Jan Ullrich, Germany, 38:21:36
2. Koldo Gil Perez, Spain, +0:00:24
3. Jörg Jaksche, Germany, +0:01:03
4. Angel Vicioso, Spain, +0:01:44
5. Janez Brajkovic, Slovenia, +0:02:33
23. Steve Zampieri, Switzerland, +0:12:22
31. Martin Elminger, Switzerland, +0:26:08
37. Oliver Zaugg, Switzerland, +0:33:00
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