Lance Armstrong admitted this wasn’t his race and the results proved it.
The Tour de France champion finished 13th in the Olympics road race, beaten by his longtime cycling rival and fellow Tour winner Jan Ullrich of Germany.
Ullrich, who won the Tour in 1997 and finished second three times, was timed in 5 hours, 29 minutes, 8 seconds. Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakstan won the silver and Andreas Kloeden of Germany the bronze.
Long a dominant rider who has struggled with weight problems, Ullrich pulled away from the pack midway through the 12th of 14 laps and never got caught in the 148-mile event.
Armstrong, the winner of the last two Tours, crossed the line in a pack 1:29 behind Ullrich. George Hincapie of Greenville, S.C., was eighth, 1:26 behind the winner.
Armstrong has yet to compete in the race that he is favored to win — the individual time trial on Saturday (Friday night ET).
Ullrich Attacks Late in Race
Hincapie, who was critical to Armstrong’s two Tour titles as a fellow member of the U.S. Postal Service team, was in third place with one lap to go appeared to be looking for Armstrong.
Armstrong was out of sight at the back of the peloton, some 30 seconds behind the leaders. He attacked, drawing cheers at the start-finish area when his move was announced to the crowd.
Armstrong and Hincapie finally connected with about three miles to go, but by then it was too late. By then, Ullrich was powering his way to victory aided by help from Kloeden.
After a rainy morning, the clouds broke and the cyclists rode under sunny skies. Although several riders took turns leading the field, nobody made a serious move until four laps remained.
That’s when Marc Wauters of Belgium, Jens Voigt of Germany and Max van Heeswijk of the Netherlands broke away.
But Voigt was setting the table for his teammates. Kloeden and Ullrich stormed up to the front midway through the 13th lap.
Consistent Finish for Armstrong
Riding in the Olympics for the third time, Armstrong finished close to where he placed in the previous two.
He was 12th in the road race in Atlanta and 14th in Barcelona. In Atlanta, he also placed sixth in the time trial at a time he was unwittingly suffering from testicular cancer.
Armstrong rose to the top of his sport by winning the Tour de France in 1999, capping a remarkable comeback. The disease had spread to his lungs and brain by the time it was detected in October 1996.
He came to Sydney focused on winning a gold medal and now it will have to come in the time trial. That’s the event he was focusing on.