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Resurgent Lance has Ullrich unfazed

German says he’s the closest since ’97 Tour

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PAU, France — Jan Ullrich says he's not ready to give up, despite Lance Armstrong's resurgence in the Tour de France.

"I've gotten extremely hot about the idea of winning the Tour," the 29-year-old German powerhouse said Tuesday, which was a rest day for riders. "At the moment everything is possible."

Ullrich has nipped at the heels of the four-time champion for much of the three-week Tour, trouncing him in an individual time trial last Friday and racing ahead on the first of four stages in the punishing Pyrenees.

But Monday, Armstrong struck back, overcoming a fall to power past Ullrich on a climb to a Pyrenean ski station and extend his overall lead over the archrival to 67 seconds.

That still isn't enough to faze Ullrich.

"I haven't been this close since 1997," he said, referring to the year in which he won the Tour, when Armstrong was battling testicular cancer.

It was the first time since the start of this year's Tour that Ullrich said victory was within his reach. The expert time-trialist said he believes all will be decided by Saturday's race against the clock — just one day before the race finishes on the Champs-Elysees.

"I am focusing on the time trial," he said.