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Rich says good-bye

Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) at his last race in Nürnberg, Germany

Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) at his last race in Nürnberg, Germany (Image credit: Florian Schaaf)

By Bjorn Haake

Friday evening marked the end of the career of one of the greatest German time trial racers. Michael Rich's hometown club RVC Reute (near Freiburg in southwest Germany) hosted an evening event filled with fun, music, laughter and the occasional racing in-between.

Several thousand spectators made their way to the city hall in Reute, where the festivities were held. Former and current racers also came to say good-bye and spice up the race activities. Well known professionals in attendance included Jens Voigt, Uwe Peschel and Fabian Wegmann, the latter a Freiburg resident.

The race activities started out with a 45 minute criterium. The top 10 of this race qualified for a Derny race with drafting off motor bikes strictly allowed. Fabian Wegmann won the race in the end. Starting at the Dauphiné Libéré on Sunday, Wegmann is a man on form.

Jens Voigt, who had shared a room with Rich for six years when traveling together with the German national team, finished second, while Rich got third.

After the racing there was time for everyone to hang out and wish Rich the best of luck. As the speakers were blasting "Time to say good bye", Rich had a few tears running down his cheek.

Rich demonstrated that he liked all the teams he rode for by wearing a special jersey that was made of four sections for the four major outfits he rode: The green-and-white of his hometown club Reute, the red Saeco colours, the colours of Öschelbronn and the blue of Gerolsteiner. Rich will stay with the latter and work as a talent scout and material wizard - after all, he learned the trades of an industrial mechanic and knows a thing or two about materials.

One of the highlights in his career was the win of the Olympic Gold Medal in the 1992 Games in Barcelona in the four-man team trial over 100km, an event that is no longer part of the Olympic program. But Rich said wins in smaller races gave him satisfaction, too.

The races he liked the most are Paris-Roubaix and the Bayern Rundfahrt. The latter he won three times.

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