Jan Ullrich has retired as a professional cyclist, after effectively a 12 year career. The German an
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM “My career as an active cyclist is finishing today,” announced Jan Ullrich at a press conference in Hamburg, Germany on Monday. The 33 year-old German is quitting after having not raced since winning the Tour de Suisse in June, 2006. But he will remain in cycling, serving as a PR man for Austrian team Volksbank. Ullrich was one of more than 50 riders to be implicated in Operacion Puerto last year. Then riding for T-Mobile, he was denied a start in the Tour de France. He was subsequently sacked by his team, then placed under investigation for doping related offences in both Switzerland and Germany. He has always claimed that he is innocent of any wrongdoing and has no links to any of those accused in Puerto, including Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. The Swiss and German investigations are ongoing, and haven’t reached any conclusions about Ullrich’s guilt or innocence. “I feel like a criminal,” said Ullrich. “I have neither deceived nor damaged anyone.” Ullrich said that he had received several offers from other teams, and he was still in good racing shape. But he decided to change. “I have thought a lot about my life and I think that it’s time for something new. Time to move into a life after active cycling. I was able to celebrate so many successes in this wonderful sport. Now it’s time to climb new mountains.” The Rostock-born German was considered one of the most gifted riders of his generation. He won the amateur world championships in 1993 when he was just 19, and turned pro with Telekom in 1995. In 1996, riding the Tour de France for the first time, he helped his team leader Bjarne Riis bring an end to the five year reign of Miguel Indurain. Riis won, but Ullrich impressively finished second. The next year, Ullrich was too strong for Riis and the rest of the field, and won the Tour de France aged 23. After that, many predicted he would go onto win several more Tours, but it was not to be. In 1998, he was beaten by Marco Pantani into second place, then a knee injury forced him out before the 1999 Tour, which was won by Lance Armstrong. Ullrich finished second to Armstrong in 2000 and 2001, missed 2002 because of a knee injury, finished second in 2003, fourth in 2004 and third in 2005. Ullrich was also successful in other races. He won the Vuelta a Espa¤a in 1999, world time trial championships in 1999 and 2001, and the Olympic Games road race in Sydney in 2000. He also won the Tour de Suisse in 2004 and 2006, the German road championships in 1997 and 2001, and the German time trial championships in 1995. He was a superb time trialist, and many of his victories were based on his abilities against the clock, but he also showed flashes of aggressive brilliance which brought him victories in road races. His climbing, compared to others in his league, was often his weak point. Ullrich’s other weakness was his tendency to put on weight in the off-season. He usually started the new season with anywhere up to 10 kg of excess, and that was a constant source of concern for his team and fans. He also had a positive test for amphetamines in 2003, which landed him a six month ban. Ullrich was not racing at the time, and claimed that he had taken the drugs while at a nightclub. But he was tested the next morning by the German anti-doping commission, and the result was positive. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.