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Ullrich: I was put on the chopping block

While he won the 1997 Tour de France and the 2000 Olympic Road Race, Jan Ullrich is probably best remembered as Lance Armstrong's chief rival at the Tour de France. Ullrich was never able to beat the Texan, finishing on the podium with Armstrong on four occasions. After Armstrong's first retirement, Ullrich was the heavy favorite to win the 2006 Tour, but was implicated in the Spanish Operacion Puerto investigation into blood doping and was not allowed to start the race.

"I wanted to do some sport [cycling] again, that is my life. I enjoy riding and wanted to combine it with sharing my experience. I enjoy getting other people interested in it and sharing the joys and health and mental benefits of cycling with other people," he added.

In 2010 Ullrich announced that he was suffering from burn out syndrome and withdrawing from public life. He has since recovered, but explained what happened. "Looking back it is quite simple. It was tough mentally. I had a lot of problems. I telephoned a lot with lawyers. There were difficult things to get through, and I simply didn't get any exercise. The balance between head and body wasn't there," said Ullrich.

"Cycling is as exciting as ever and I follow it as a fan on television. It is a grandiose sport and there will always be great riders. It is a great sport with many aspects and many different races, one day races and stage races, and it is always exciting," added Ullrich.

Additional reporting by Susan Westemeyer.

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