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Ullrich back on the bike

Ullrich smiles for good cause.

Ullrich smiles for good cause. (Image credit: AFP)

Jan Ullrich has been out of competition for some 15 months, but decided to get back to 'racing' on October 3, the German national holiday. The race was for a good cause, all the money raised went to disabled children, and Ullrich pitched in an extra 5,000 euro. Ullrich was part of a team that included former racer Gregor Braun and former ski star Frank Wörndl.

Before the race Ullrich joked that "if I can get together an average of 33 [km/h] I'll start racing again." Clad in a black jersey with grey sleeves, Ullrich ended up as one of the last finishers and his team's two and a half hours for 60 kilometres ended all speculation about a return to the professional peloton. Of course, that was not the goal of the day and Ullrich commented after the race about the other factors that were important. "That's what it's all about. Many people rode hard, they have done something for their health and at the same time they did something for a good cause."

Not too many spectators had come out, but most that did were in support of Ullrich. "Innocent until proven guilty," was a common statement heard from people in the crowd. Ullrich made clear that the most important was to help the kids. "Today I cannot disturb or harm anybody," Ullrich made clear that the focus should be on the charity. He added with a smile that "if someone can find a bad word today, they better come talk to me directly."

Other prominent members in the race were Stefan Schumacher, who won the bronze medal on Sunday in the World Championships in nearby Stuttgart and time trial gold medalist Hanka Kupfernagel. Also among the riders were Jens Voigt, Steffen Wesemann and Andreas Klöden Unlike his retired colleague, Schumacher opted for the 100 kilometre race, which came down to five laps on the 20-kilometre long circuit.

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