Ullrich considering returning to cycling in management role
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ullrich considering returning to cycling in management role

by VeloNation Press at 9:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former Tour winner training regularly, enjoying the sport again

Jan UllrichStating that he is training a lot once more and is passionate about cycling again, 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich appears to be thinking of a possible management role in the sport. Last month the 37 year old took part in the Germany Grand Prix event, riding a four man team time trial, and finds himself more and more interested in the sport.

“Why not?” he said, when asked by Radsport News if he would consider working with a development team. “I want to get back into the working life - and it is almost certain it will be in cycling. I can imagine very well to give the youngsters a chance. But nothing is planned as of yet. I had to deal with my situation. My big love 'cycling' had become a love-hate relationship for a while. But now this great sport is developing once again to my big love.”

Ullrich quit the sport after being not allowed start the 2006 Tour de France. He had gone into the race as one of the big favourites, courtesy of his time trial win in the Giro d’Italia and victory in the Tour de Suisse. However he was implicated in Operación Puerto and while he was not suspended, he retired from the sport.

The matter weighed heavily upon him and eleven months ago Ullrich announced that he was retiring from public life due to strain. “A few days ago I was diagnosed with burnout syndrome, which will probably require a lengthy treatment,” he said then. “To enable a speedy recovery, I will therefore withdraw completely in the coming months from the public. I will face this new challenge in the coming weeks – and, on behalf of my family, I thank you in advance for your support.”

Since then he has trained more and more, and found that his mood improved with a return to cycling. “Cycling is good for body and mind and helps me, me again to focus on other tasks,” he said. “Cycling was my life, my friends still come from the cycling world, many of them still go racing - the sport will always occupy a large place in my life.”

Ullrich said that he tries to get out five times a week, but that the emphasis is on enjoying it. “I realize that I'm better with it [cycling]. I need the sport as compensation. But today I can even stop and drink a coffee. If I’m at a lake and it pleases me, I just sit down and enjoy nature. To me it's more fun than before, in those situations where you had to tear down the miles to get in shape.”

Klöden and German cycling:

One of Ullrich’s closest friends is Andreas Klöden. He’s gone on training camps with him in the past, and said that he continues to train with him when he gets time. However he stressed that he doesn’t do the ‘full workload’ with him. “Usually only the first hundred kilometres. Andi is always very kind to me (laughs). So I can keep the first two hours well. One can not just forget that I am five years out of business - for four years I have done nothing. I’ve done three quarters of a year of training, but my condition is really good already.”

Ullrich said that rather than feeling nostalgic when he sees Klöden perform strongly, he’s simply happy to see a friend ride well. He said he gets a lot of pleasure from seeing German riders fare well, and gives a big thumbs up to Tony Martin. Martin lives close to Ullrich and competes with the HTC Highroad team, a squad descended to Ullrich’s former T-Mobile setup.

“I have been following the career of Tony. He is an incredibly likeable young man who is successful and has shown what he can do,” he said. “His development is very, very good. However, as to whether he can win the Tour de France - that is in the stars.”

German cycling was badly affected by the various scandals the sport faced, including Ullrich’s own withdrawal from the 2006 Tour due to Operacion Puerto. The positives of the Austrian Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher – both riding for the German Gerolsteiner team - also affected the sport, and provided fuel to a home media which has at times focussed almost exclusively on the negative aspects of the Tour.

Ullrich believes that the general state of German cycling could be improving, though, saying that he is proud to see strong riders coming through, and that teams such as NetApp are giving them an opportunity.

“The media have been pretty hard on cycling. But I believe that things have improved slowly - partly because of the young talents. There are also small teams developing again in Germany. The shock is still deep and sponsors do not throw money around, this is clear. But everything will be OK, because I'm sure that time heals all wounds.”

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