By Susan Westemeyer
"Something has been taken away from me that I had worked very hard for," Jan Ullrich told Cyclingnews on Sunday, November 12. "My goal now is to work all my frustrations out on the bike." The German cycling icon is training around three hours every day at the moment, hoping for an opportunity to make his comeback next season.
"In order to train as comprehensively as possible, we have put together a training plan which includes not only riding but also weight training and the altitude chamber," he added.
Cyclingnews reported last week that Ullrich was staying in shape at his home at this time. "Right now I'm still training in Switzerland," he said. "We have some perfect places here to select the optimal degree of difficulty. Plus the daily work in the altitude chamber is perfect for preparation."
Eventually, Ullrich will attend a training camp in a so-far unannounced location. "Right now we're planning for the next few weeks. Our goal is to go to a training camp at exactly the right time so that we can see the desired results next year. I'm confident that all of our planning will work out perfectly," explained the former T-Mobile rider, who hasn't competed since June this year because of his alleged involvement in Spanish doping scandal Operación Puerto.
Ullrich noted that he had help coping with things this summer. "I'm very happy that the people around me have supported me, and that my fans have stayed true to me. With this support I have been able to look forward and to take on every challenge."
Currently without a license or contract, Ullrich continues to believe that he will be back racing as soon as possible - maybe already in January 2007, as the Berlin Six Day organisers have made him an offer to compete at their event. "In order to convict someone, there must be evidence and a verdict of guilty," race director Heinz Seesing told the Berliner Kurier newspaper. "When these aren't there, then it is legally very difficult to exclude someone. If he can ride, then he will be invited."
Former T-Mobile team manager Olaf Ludwig, whom Cyclingnewsinterviewed recently is also certain of Ullrich's comeback. "I'm pretty sure that Jan Ullrich will be riding again," he told the paper. "If he can reach the same level of performance, however, is another question."
Another question remains: which team will hire the German, who may still be the subject of an investigation as soon as the Spanish court dealing with Operación Puerto releases its information? Ludwig also criticized Discovery Channel's signing of Ivan Basso. "Discovery regards dropping the legal proceedings as the same thing as being cleared," he said. "What's left of a code of honour among team managers is questionable - the dumb one here is CSC boss Bjarne Riis, who dissolved his contract with Basso."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto