Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich says he is surprised cycling legend Lance Armstrong plans to come out of retirement to compete in next year’s race, but admits he is not tempted to join him.
Armstrong, who will turn 37 on September 18, said on Tuesday he will return to professional cycling in 2009 and try to win an eighth Tour de France crown.
But while Armstrong has insisted age is no boundary, Ullrich, 34, told German tabloid Bild his cycling days are over.
Allegations of doping have blighted both Armstrong and Ullrich in recent years and the German cycling ace has kept a very low profile here since his retirement in February 2007.
“I am surprised at the news, but I think it is a good thing. If he starts the race, I think it will be exciting for the Tour,” said Ullrich. “When he attacks, the others will have to hold on. He will not be returning to win second place.”
Having won the 1997 Tour de France, Ullrich finished second behind Armstrong three times and the pair built up a fierce rivalry with the American. But Ullrich says he has no plans to follow Armstrong back to the Tour.
“At the moment, I am just enjoying time with my young son Max. In all honesty I have no urge to return,” he said. “I have other plans in life and I am not missing anything. I am happy with my life. You should never say never, but it is not something I have thought about.
“We have different stories, he retired after a victory, I retired after a disappointment. I wish him luck and I will call him over the next few days,” he added.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008