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Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile)
1997 Tour de France winner picks up the bike again
After suffering from burnout syndrome last year, Jan Ullrich is back to good health as he participated in a cyclosportive event in Italy last week. The experience turned out positive for the German, and he is now planning to attend further events in the future.
On July 31, Ullrich lined up at the Giro delle Dolomiti in Bolzano under a pseudonym, "Max Kraft" (literally "Max Power"). But his anonymity didn't last long, as fellow participants amongst the approximate 700 cyclists in the field soon recognised the only German Tour de France winner, who has only been back in training for four months.
Ullrich was pleasantly surprised with how the field reacted to his presence, according to Radsportnews. "At one point, my shoulder almost started to hurt from all the tapping! But it felt good. It showed me that people still like me - at least those, who also like cycling," he said.
The 37-year-old started the cyclosportive event without a transponder at first, but then took one one on stage three. He clocked 96th on the Passo Nigra and was respectful of the amateurs' level of competition. "It was surprisingly fast," said Ullrich, who nevertheless takes part without any sporting ambitions - a new experience to him.
"I just want to find the pleasure of cycling again," he continued. "Hobby races are a lot of fun. You ride along with like-minded people, talk about the course and bikes, give some advice... it's just cycling. Without having to talk about doping all the time!"
Together with his manager, Ullrich has decided to line up at more cylocportives in the future and to raise funds for charity in this way. His next ride will be the Ötztaler Radmarathon in Austria on August 28.
"There will be packages on offer to ride and spend time with Jan," Ullrich's media manager Falk Nier explained. The revenue would be donated charities.