The young usurper Ullrich, breaking the shackles of loyalty to his team leader, took a commanding lead in the tough 10th stage in the Pyrenees on Tuesday when he left Riis and other contenders for dead.
That showed he had the strength to succeed the veteran Dane as champion.
Now, with other pre-Tour favourites either out of the running or the race altogether, the pressure is on Riis to keep tabs on the talented German looking to replace Miguel Indurain, also brilliant in the time trials, as Tour king.
Gone is Swiss veteran Tony Rominger, who broke his collarbone in the third stage and was the only rider with a better average speed in a Tour time trial than Ullrich.
The Swiss has the fourth best ever average speed, the German the fifth. Only American Greg LeMond, the fastest ever in Paris in 1989, and Indurain twice, have ridden faster in Tour time trials.
Russian Yevgeny Berzin also crashed out of the Tour with a broken collarbone in the first week while Alex Zuelle preferred not to take more risks after being involved in three mass falls. He had only just recovered from a fractured collarbone.
Briton Chris Boardman, who won the prologue in Rouen 13 days ago and might have posed the biggest challenge to Ullrich in the time trial, is suffering from a neck injury in a fall and is way down the overall standings.
``I still have a stiff neck, but my legs are feeling better,'' said Boardman, who held the leader's yellow jersey now worn by Ullrich for just one day.
``I want to get over this and stay on the Tour,'' he added as he prepared to make the most of Thursday's rest day.
French mountain specialist Richard Virenque, second overall two minutes 38 seconds behind Ullrich, has been improving in the solo tests against the clock, over the years as he seeks to become France's first winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
``Ullrich will have an advantage in the time trial. But the Alps are very difficult and should favour climbers like me or (Italian Marco) Pantani.''
Another major contender at the start, Spaniard Abraham Olano, is merely seeking damage limitation after struggling in the mountains.
``I'm still feeling the fall (on the last day of the Dauphine Libere in mid-June),'' Olano said. ``I thought I'd got over that, but evidently I'm not as well as I'd like to be. I'm going to keep fighting for a place on the podium in Paris.''
Ullrich, although not a noted climber, added to his aura of an all-powerful rider in the Pyrenees and victory in the time trial should be enough for a Tour triumph.
The 23-year-old German first emerged in the wider public eye with his brilliant time trial in the penultimate stage of his first Tour last year in St Emilion outside Bordeaux.
Riis said that although Ullrich was currently the strongest rider, the Tour would not be won in the St Etienne time trial, pointing out that afterwards there were some tough Alpine stages.
``What I fear most are the time trials because I have done so few this year, having concentrated on my preparations for the mountains,'' Riis said. ``But it won't be the time trials that decide the outcome of this Tour.''
Having seen the superb rides of overall leader Jan Ullrich of Germany, the Spaniard is realistically looking at a place on the podium in Paris on July 27 rather than an outright victory.
Olano explains his problems -- lack of strength in parts of the Pyrenees on Tuesday and Wednesday -- on a fall on the last day of the Dauphine Libere race in southern France in mid-June when he was on the verge of a certain win.
``After the fall in the Dauphine Libere, I thought I was all right, but I have since had my doubts as I have not been going well,'' he told a news conference on Thursday's rest day.
``I'm pretty stubborn. These last stages I lost power and I wanted to know why. I've always given my maximum. I'd never quit,'' he said.
``It's a strange situation I'm going through,'' added Olano who had looked like he was peaking perfectly for the Tour with his performance in the Dauphine Libere before the fall.
After 11 stages Olano is presently third overall, four minutes 46 seconds behind Ullrich.
Banesto team manager Eusebio Unzue said Olano was not the only one surprised by his poor climb of the 2,407-metre Port d'Envalira in Andorra on Wednesday when the Spaniard was some 35 to 40 places behind the leaders.
``It's not normal in those kind of circumstances for him to get stuck,'' Unzue said. ``It was just a bad moment.''
Olano said that with Ullrich, a time trial specialist like his former team leader Indurain, in such good form he was looking at Friday's 12th stage time trial as a means of continuing to fight for a place among the top three.
``I'm not the new Indurain. I'm the relacement as team leader. This is the start of a new era we hope will also be successful,'' he said. ``To reach the podium is not a defeat.''
Olano, who won three time trials on his way to second place in the 1995 Vuelta a Espana, said Friday's 55-km stage on a circuit starting and finishing in St Etienne would be very tough.
``It's got a very demanding sinuous first part and you will really feel the first effort you make on the first climb,'' he said.
``Then there is another tough climb, before it gets better on a long descent and an easier climb at the end.''
But that is what it looks like with his young Telekom team mate Jan Ullrich emerging as the likely new king of the Tour with the potential to emulate five times winner Miguel Indurain, the man Riis displaced last year.
``I haven't lost the Tour yet,'' the veteran Dane said on Thursday, a rest day before the 12th stage time trial in St Etienne on Friday.
``I'm fourth in the (overall) standings and there are still a lot of very difficult stages to be fought,'' he told a news conference at the Telekom team's hotel.
Telekom leader Riis is nearly five minutes behind Ullrich.
Riis appeared at pains to accept the brutal coup d'etat carried out by his subaltern Ullrich on the climb to Arcalis in Andorra in the 10th stage, second in the Pyrenees, on Tuesday -- a stage that could well go down as the one on which this Tour was won and lost.
But, recognising that the German 23-year-old was currently in better form, he said: ``If Jan continues like this, almost no-one can beat him. And one will have to consider oneself content to have a place on the podium in Paris.
``Jan is a nice chap. He has been very fair with me and so I must in turn be fair to him and if I realise I can't win the Tour then, okay, I'll do all I can so Jan wins.''
The rider closest to Ullrich in the standings is Frenchman Richard Virenque, a climb specialist looking forward to trying to regain time on Ullrich on the ascent to Alpe d'Huez in Saturday's 13th stage.
``That climb is not Arcalis. Alpe d'Huez was made for the real climbers like me or (Italian Marco) Pantani,'' Virenque said. ``The Alps are going to be very tough.
``If he (Ullrich) passes the mountains, then he'll have won. And maybe we'll have him for five years, too,'' he said referring to Indurain's successive triumphs.
Virenque, speaking at a news conference given by the French Festina team on the other side of St Etienne, said he thought he would be in a good position to challenge Ullrich in the Alps if he managed to drop only two minutes in the time trial.
``If I lose less than two minutes I'll be very pleased, and if I lose four minutes it will be normal.''
Team manager Bruno Roussel said: ``We can expect Richard to be between six and seven minutes behind Ullrich after the time trial.''
1. Jan Ullrich (Ger) TEL 55.00.54 2. Richard Virenque (Fra) FES 2.58 3. Abraham Olano (Spa) BAN 4.46 4. Bjarne Riis (Dan) TEL 4.53 5. Marco Pantani (Ita) MER 5.29 6. Fernando Escartin (Spa) KEL 5.46 7. Laurent Dufaux (Swi) FES 6.02 8. Oskar Camenzind (Swi) MAP 7.00 9. Francesco Casagrande (Ita) SAE 7.20 10. Cidric Vasseur (Fra) GAN 7.31 11. Pascal Lino (Fra) BIG 7.41 12. Peter Luttenberger (Aut) RAB 8.02 13. Jose Maria Jimenez (Spa) BAN 9.33 14. Daniele Nardello (Ita) MAP 10.01 15. Roberto Conti (Ita) MER 10.20 16. Alberto Elli (Ita) CSO 10.41 17. Joona Laukka (Fin) FES 11.15 18. Laurent Madouas (Fra) LOT 12.19 19. Beat Zberg (Swi) MER 12.47 20. Frangois Simon (Fra) GAN 13.58 21. Manuel Beltran (Spa) BAN 14.38 22. Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) USP 15.30 23. Marco Fincato (Ita) ROS 16.34 24. Hernan Buenahora (Col) KEL 18.57 25. Christophe Moreau (Fra) FES 18.58 26. Michael Boogerd (Ned) RAB 21.17 27. Pascal Chanteur (Fra) CSO 22.14 28. Laurent Roux (Fra) TVM 22.59 29. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) ONC 24.32 30. Santiago Blanco (Spa) BAN 24.34 31. Jean-Philippe Dojwa (Fra) MUT 25.26 32. Mikel Zarrabeitia (Spa) ONC 25.31 33. Marcello Siboni (Ita) MER 26.58 34. Kevin Livingston (USA) COF 27.05 35. Andreo Teteriuk (Kzk) LOT 27.24 36. Stiphane Heulot (Fra) FDJ 29.58 37. Peter Meinert (Dan) USP 30.04 38. Massimo Podenzana (Ita) MER 30.24 39. Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) FES 31.33 40. Laurent Brochard (Fra) FES 32.46 41. Bobby Julich (USA) COF 32.47 42. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) USP 34.07 43. Jose de los Angeles (Spa) KEL 36.03 44. Benont Salmon (Fra) LOT 36.08 45. Thierry Bourguignon (Fra) BIG 38.26 46. Rolf Aldag (Ger) TEL 39.06 47. Didier Rous (Fra) FES 39.12 48. Udo Bolts (Ger) TEL 40.26 49. Peter Farazijn (Bel) LOT 42.14 50. Valentino Fois (Ita) MAP 42.49 51. Pascal Hervi (Fra) FES 43.56 52. Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) SAE 44.01 53. Oscar Pellicioli (Ita) MER 44.29 54. Georg Totschnig (Aut) TEL 44.44 55. Fabrice Gougot (Fra) CSO 45.33 56. Javier Pascual (Spa) KEL 45.54 57. Neil Stephens (Aus) FES 46.04 58. Orlando Rodrigues (Por) BAN 46.08 59. Erik Breukink (Ned) RAB 46.42 60. David Delrieu (Fra) MUT 48.29 61. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) ONC 48.37 62. Zenon Jaskula (Pol) MAP 49.14 63. Angel Casero (Spa) BAN 50.31 64. Jon Odriozola (Spa) BAT 51.07 65. Marino Alonso (Spa) BAN 51.16 66. Andrea Peron (Ita) FDJ 51.17 67. Bo Hamburger (Dan) TVM 51.54 68. Giusvan Piovaccari (Ita) MER 56.36 69. Erik Zabel (Ger) TEL 58.20 70. Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) PLT 58.30 71. Andrea Tafi (Ita) MAP 59.09 72. Davide Rebellin (Ita) FDJ 59.18 73. Miguel Arroyo (Mex) BIG 59.40 74. Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) TVM 59.47 75. Marco Zen (Ita) ROS 59.54 76. Marty Jemison (USA) USP 1.00.16 77. Daniele Sgnaolin (Ita) ROS 1.00.23 78. Aitor Garmendia (Spa) ONC 1.00.30 79. Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJ 1.00.41 80. Tyler Hamilton (USA) USP 1.01.06 81. Maximilian Sciandri (G-B) FDJ 1.01.54 82. Patrick Jonker (Aus) RAB 1.02.45 83. Frankie Andreu (USA) COF 1.04.34 84. Jaime Gonzalez (Col) KEL 1.05.18 85. Alexandre Gontchenkov (Rus) ROS 1.06.04 86. Jose Angel Vidal (Spa) KEL 1.06.33 87. Francisco Benitez (Spa) KEL 1.06.56 88. Giorgio Furlan (Ita) SAE 1.07.11 89. Rolf Sorensen (Dan) RAB 1.08.29 90. Christophe Rinero (Fra) COF 1.08.32 91. Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) CSO 1.08.42 92. Arturas Kasputis (Lit) CSO 1.09.42 93. Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) MAP 1.09.48 94. Chris Boardman (G-B) GAN 1.10.42 95. Claude Lamour (Fra) MUT 1.11.19 96. David Etxebarria (Spa) ONC 1.11.30 97. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) USP 1.12.52 98. Jose Luis Arrieta (Spa) BAN 1.12.56 99. Bruno Cenghialta (Ita) BAT 1.12.57 100. Wilfried Peeters (Bel) MAP 1.14.13 101. Erik Dekker (Ned) RAB 1.14.34 102. Giuseppe Tartaggia (Ita) BAT 1.15.01 103. Nicola Loda (Ita) MAG 1.15.02 104. Robbie McEwen (Aus) RAB 1.15.59 105. Stuart O'Grady (Aus) GAN 1.16.04 106. Fridiric Moncassin (Fra) GAN 1.16.09 107. Jens Heppner (Ger) TEL 1.16.28 108. Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita) SAE 1.16.53 109. Nicola Minali (Ita) BAT 1.17.19 110. Mario Traversoni (Ita) MER 1.17.26 111. Danny Nelissen (Ned) RAB 1.17.30 112. Henk Vogels (Aus) GAN 1.17.32 113. Marco Artunghi (Ita) MER 1.17.50 114. Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) LOT 1.18.09 115. Andreo Tchmil (Ukr) LOT 1.18.28 116. Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) TVM 1.18.55 117. Luc Leblanc (Fra) PLT 1.19.10 118. Javier Mauleon (Spa) ONC 1.19.14 119. Arnaud Pretot (Fra) GAN 1.19.49 120. Johan Museeuw (Bel) MAP 1.20.30 121. Anthony Morin (Fra) BIG 1.20.34 122. Viatcheslav Djavanian (Rus) ROS 1.20.44 123. Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) TEL 1.20.47 124. Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) COF 1.21.22 125. Adriano Baffi (Ita) USP 1.21.25 126. Francisco Cabello (Spa) KEL 1.21.29 127. Girard Rui (Fra) GAN 1.21.30 128. Peter Van Petegem (Bel) TVM 1.21.41 129. Mirco Crepaldi (Ita) PLT 1.22.20 130. Dominique Rault (Fra) MUT 1.22.53 131. Laurent Desbiens (Fra) COF 1.23.11 132. Mauro Gianetti (Swi) FDJ 1.23.20 133. Roberto Sierra (Spa) ONC 1.23.36 134. Inigo Chaurreau (Spa) PLT 1.23.42 135. Pascal Lance (Fra) BIG 1.23.52 136. George Hincapie (USA) USP 1.24.14 137. Christian Henn (Ger) TEL 1.25.21 138. Gilberto Simoni (Ita) MAG 1.25.50 139. Gerrit De Vries (Ned) PLT 1.25.56 140. Fridiric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ 1.25.58 141. Gilles Maignan (Fra) MUT 1.26.12 142. Servais Knaven (Ned) TVM 1.26.24 143. Jesper Skibby (Dan) TVM 1.26.59 144. Laurent Genty (Fra) BIG 1.27.19 145. Flavio Vanzella (Ita) FDJ 1.27.20 146. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MAG 1.27.20 147. Marcelino Garcia (Spa) ONC 1.27.30 148. Stiphane Cueff (Fra) MUT 1.28.04 149. Rolf Jaermann (Swi) CSO 1.28.06 150. Dario Frigo (Ita) SAE 1.28.14 151. Serguei Outschakov (Ukr) PLT 1.28.14 152. Lauri Aus (Est) CSO 1.28.21 153. Marco Saligari (Ita) CSO 1.28.31 154. Philipp Buschor (Swi) SAE 1.28.44 155. Vitali Kokorine (Rus) ROS 1.28.54 156. Rossano Brasi (Ita) PLT 1.28.57 157. Tristan Hoffman (Ned) TVM 1.29.50 158. Pascal Derami (Fra) USP 1.30.13 159. Andrea Brognara (Ita) BAT 1.31.22 160. Jean-Frangois Anti (Fra) MUT 1.31.25 161. Jo Planckaert (Bel) LOT 1.32.02 162. Cyril Saugrain (Fra) COF 1.32.35 163. Thierry Gouvenou (Fra) BIG 1.32.47 164. Gianluca Valoti (Ita) PLT 1.32.48 165. Torsten Schmidt (Ger) ROS 1.33.19 166. Francesco Frattini (Ita) BAT 1.33.33 167. Luca Scinto (Ita) MAG 1.34.36 168. Carlo Finco (Ita) MAG 1.36.49 169. Bart Voskamp (Ned) TVM 1.37.05 170. Matteo Tosatto (Ita) MAG 1.37.16 171. Marc Wauters (Bel) LOT 1.37.19 172. Eros Poli (Ita) GAN 1.37.52 173. Laurent Pillon (Fra) MUT 1.40.46 174. Luca Colombo (Ita) BAT 1.49.35 175. Philippe Gaumont (Fra) COF 1.56.19 176. Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) SAE 2.00.32 177. Gianluca Pierobon (Ita) BAT 2.05.39 178. Ludovic Auger (Fra) BIG 2.09.30