Jan Ullrich

Discussion in 'Professional Cycling' started by limerickman, Jul 30, 2009.

  1. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Like the Macbeth character, Banquo, the 2009 Tour de France had the ghost of Jan Ullrich hovering over it.

    All of the cast of times past, were present at the 2009 TDF.

    We had Ully’s old adversary LA and his faithful lieutenants, pedalling the roads of France.
    We had Ully’s former team captain and now SAXO DS, Bjarne Riis, directing his current generation of cyclists.
    We had Bruyneel, Ully’s former opponent and manager of his nemesis Armstrong, watching as a new potential all time great, Contador, won the 2009 TDF.

    And all the while, many fans wanted to see Ully back riding in the 2009 TDF.
    Perhaps even renewing old rivalries with the cast of characters who actually took part in this years race.

    What of Jan Ullrich?
    His departure from the 2006 TDF was not a fitting way, for a man of his calibre, to leave the sport.
    A TDF winner in 1997, and a TDF runner up 5 times, his TDF record alone would more than satisfy the
    ambitions of all practically every rider who ever lived, save perhaps an Hinault or a Merckx.

    The young man that appeared at the TDF in 1996 was largely unknown.
    I had seen him at the Worlds Juniors in 1993 when I had a team in Oslo for the race.
    I followed his progress in 1996 with interest, because he flattened every opponent as an amateur and
    I wanted to see just how he would get on in big time professional cycling.
    I need not have had any concern.

    The precocious talent he showed as an amateur, was even more apparent when he finished second in his very first TDF
    in 1996!
    He beat the legendary Miguel Indurain – his own hero - in his first TDF!

    Where to from there?
    What must have gone through his mind ? A young lad raised and reared in the former East Germany is suddenly
    transported to the limelight of the biggest annual sporting event in the world.
    Not an easy road.

    And with the expectation of the whole of Germany, in 1997, Jan Ullrich not only went out and rode the TDF but won it
    at the age of 24.
    Superstardom beckoned. Sponsors rolled up with lucrative contracts. German brand names like Adidas wrote blank cheques.
    Too much, too soon.
    How could any of us cope with superstardom at 24?

    In 1998, he came back to the TDF and was beaten by the flying, mercurial Marco Pantani.
    Pantani, a man who feared no reputation or talent, earned a hardfought victory over the German
    wunderkind.
    Their respect was mutual : Pantani respected Ully, as Ully respected Pantani.
    From there, Ully developed knee problems and missed 1999 TDF but came back to win the 1999
    Vuelta Espagne.
    Was he back to his former greatness ? Had he restored his capability?
    Who knows.

    The wins in subsequent years at the Olympics and the wins at events like the Tour de Suisse are all great achievements which any
    professional rider would give his right arm for.
    But the TDF was always a case of unfinished business.
    Injuries, spluttering preparations, did not help.
    With his back to the wall, in 2003, Ully pulled together a makeshift team which almost, almost captured first spot again at the TDF.
    What a story that would have been.

    Should Jan have accepted the offer of his old team mate Riis – and worked with him again?
    Should Jan have gone back to Telekom?
    Hindsight is no sight, so they say.

    In terms of his palmares, Jan Ullrich has no reason to feel bad.
    Riders would kill for a palmares like his.
    Maybe, just maybe, it all came a bit too soon for Jan Ullrich.
    As a rider, he showed that he had the courage to come back and compete many times.
    That is the sign of a real champion – when in adversity, the competitor comes out and challenges again.
    Jan did that many times.
    And perhaps that has been the best legacy of all.
     
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  2. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    That reads very nicely.
     
  3. TheDangerMan

    TheDangerMan New Member

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    Did you write that? Is it an article?

    It's interesting to me that quite a few people who don't like Armstrong, do like Jan Ullrich. That is strange given there is even more recent circumstantial evidence that Ulrich doped than Armstrong did.
     
  4. Grater

    Grater New Member

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    Yep very good.

    Let's hope that little Max has the same genes and can follow the footsteps of his father but with a better head so to speak!

    Ullrich was a champion of the sport and it's a shame how he went out like he did.
     
  5. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I hear that Max and Jan's nephew Max Steinhauser are expected to compete against each other same day.
    The sad part is that by then I will be watching reruns of the 2010 TDF and thinking they are live.
    I'll be hell on wheels in my carbon fiber wheel chair.
     
  6. gtm

    gtm New Member

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    As far as I'm concerned doping is the least of Armstrong's many sins:D

    I thought back in '97 Ullrich would win a stack of T de F's & he would have done but for the fact he was unfortunate to play out his career competing against Armstrong. This might not have been such a problem if he had not been such a lazy, pie guzzling, party animal. That being said I'd much rather go and have a few pints with Ullrich than you know who.
     
  7. gtm

    gtm New Member

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    :eek: - Armstrong's new baby is called Max as well. One Armstrong is more than enough in the lifetime of any cycling fan.
     
  8. Grater

    Grater New Member

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    Well let's hope that Max Ullrich and his cousin Max Steinhauser, the super domestique can beat Max Armstrong on more than one occasion! :D
     
  9. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    I think his bad habits were somewhat over stated by the media and that being said he really like South African wine.;)
     
  10. gtm

    gtm New Member

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    He also liked his 'disco biscuits' & there was the annual frantic crash diet to lose the off seasons flab (annually) :D
     
  11. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    from me own pen.

    It's an attempt at a summation of his career.
     
  12. Grater

    Grater New Member

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    It was very good! Nicely well done!
     
  13. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    thanks
     
  14. Grater

    Grater New Member

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    I guess that's why they call you 'limerickman'?
     
  15. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    You mind if I copy this and pass it along to him?
     
  16. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    No problem at all.
    By all means.

    You might need to explain the reference to Banquo, though
    He wasn't a Euskatel/Basque climber!:D
     
  17. meehs

    meehs New Member

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    Excellent summary of Ully's career. In 1996/1997 I (for one) thought that JU might go down as the greatest cyclist of all time. So much natural ability!
     
  18. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    thanks Meehs.

    I promise to do one for LA - if and when he retires
     
  19. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Don't you mean retires soon and promises to stay retired?
     
  20. Klodifan

    Klodifan New Member

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    awww, well written. thanks for sharing.
     
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