With the world’s most famous cycle race only a few weeks away, two of Lance Armstrong’s main rivals have pulled out of the Tour. Alexandre Vinokourov, who was third last year, will not be able to support Jan Ullrich’s bid to topple the champion, after a serious crash in Switzerland left the Russian rider in need of a shoulder operation. Joseba Beloki, who has finished amongst the leaders on the last three occasions, has also announced that he will not race after struggling to find his form following a broken leg last year. He has subsequently split with his Brioches la Boulangere team. That leaves Ullrich, Iban Mayo and fellow Texan Tyler Hamilton to attempt to prevent Armstrong from winning a record sixth time. David Millar represents Britain’s best chance of glory in the Tour de France.