Jan Ullrich not invited to Tour de France Grand Depart in Dusseldorf

Current German riders argue 1997 Tour winner should be welcomed back

Jan Ullrich, the only German winner of the Tour de France, will not be among the dignitaries attending the Grand Depart in Dusseldorf on Saturday.

The 1997 Tour winner was not invited by ASO and will instead mark the 20th anniversary of his historic win by taking part in a charity race in Bocholt, said Ulrich's friend and former teammate Andreas Klöden in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

"Jan is invited to Bocholt on the 20th anniversary of his Tour win in 1997, where he will race a charity race," Klöden said. "I am not invited, but I will be in Dusseldorf."

Ullrich's ties to the EPO era of cycling have left him somewhat of a pariah in the German cycling community. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) banned him for two years in 2012 because of his connections to the Operación Puerto investigation of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Ullrich's half-hearted confession has done little to rehabilitate his image.

Earlier this year, Ullrich stepped down from the role of Sporting Director at the Rund um Köln, just four days after his appointment was announced. He put the blame on negative media reports.

A second chance

Despite the negative press an ongoing issues with Ullrich's legacy in cycling, many current German professionals indicated that he has paid his price and should be welcomed back into the cycling fold.

"There are still disappointed feelings in the public," said Quick-Step Floors sprinter Marcel Kittel, one of Germany's current cycling stars. "As a human being, Ullrich is tired of being further excluded. But he should have handled his past differently. Many people take offense that he has never been clear on the subject of doping. He should come to terms with himself, everyone deserves a second chance."

Nikias Arndt, the 25-year-old Team Sunweb rider who is making his Tour de France debut, said 20 years is enough.

"Cycling has changed," Arndt said. "It would be time to give him a second chance."

Arndt's teammate Simon Geschke agreed, adding that a 'big confession' from Ullrich was not necessary.

"I do not know if the big confession would be necessary," Greschke said. "Everyone who understands a little bit about cycling knows what was happening at the time."

Newly crowned German road champion Marcus Burghardt, who rode with Ullrich at T-Mobile, said his former teammate has paid enough.

"Others have long since been back," said the Bora-Hansgrohe rider.

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