Riding for pleasure

Friday, 12 August 2011

Jan Ullrich

There’s news that Jan Ullrich is riding amateur events under a false name. He’s calling himself Max Kraft in order to ride smaller events, apparently to avoid the limelight… although obviously he’s been rumbled now and the Belgian media are all over it meaning an end to his privacy. Note Kraft is the German for power so his name is Max Power.

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race“.
HG Wells, “A Modern Utopia” (1905)

Sometimes a career on the bike means many leave the sport tired and associate a bicycle with work. What was once done for fun become a chore thanks to the obligations of work and many gladly hang up their wheels for good. For me it’s heartening to see Jan Ullrich enjoying a ride. It shows that whilst some can ride their bike to earn millions, they can often find pleasure in a simple ride.

He’s not just out for a spin, Ullrich is aiming to ride the tough Ötztal Radmarathon cyclo event in Austria, 240km and 8,000 vertical metres. It’s not his only challenge this month, a doping case is still ongoing and he’s due before the Court of Arbitration for Sport this month.

He’s had weight problems and enjoys a beer or three so it’s good to see him enjoying a ride and even a semi-competitive event. He’s keeping fit too and often trains with near neighbour and friend Andreas Klöden, using the scenic roads around Lake Constance on the Swiss-German border and even joining the Radioshack rider to ride in Majorca.

Cycling’s good for the mind as well as the body, a topic I’ve covered before.

Yorkie August 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Good for him – I know that if I lined up at a local sportive and found myself by surprise next to a former pro, I’d be stoked!

And if he needs to do it under a false name to avoid attention, then all the better – it’s not by reading about people in the papers that you get to know them.

Doper or not, there’s no doubt of his talent.

robin August 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I remain a fan of Ullrich, he enlivened the Tour for all those years when LA was dominating it.

I’m not sure of the relevance of the one photo on the dutch website, but that certainly improved my day.

Frank August 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Max Power- love it! Hate to think what his waistlines like now he doesn’t have to watch it mind…

Ankush August 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

As everyone else I’m particularly impressed with the choice of the alias. Respect the guy for his love of cycling, you can never take that away.

Chris August 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Max Power was also Homer Simpson’s self generated nickname in an episode of The Simpsons. Fitting since they are both somewhat of a dough-boy.

Matt August 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

@Yorkie – “Good for him – I know that if I lined up at a local sportive and found myself by surprise next to a former pro, I’d be stoked!”

Unless it was Ricco in a Gran Fondo. ;)

Oh wait, he’s not PRO!

;)

Marcello August 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

That’s my team’s name. maxpowercycling.com We should send him a kit.

Ice41000 August 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I liked him before and I like him now.
And I ride the same bike as him! :-)

ElBeeJay August 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm

He’s still wearing the same shades from Rudy Project

TomH August 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Anyone who wants to know more about him should see the Sporza/Canvas documentary. It gives a very interesting insight in him as a cyclist and person. I’ve definately grown to like him since seeing it.

vino August 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

The Ötztal Radmarathon has “only” 5400 meters of vertical climbing, but still hard enough.

Mark Rushton August 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

It’s time he came back and just ignored any jibes. Compared to people like Ricco, Jan acquitted himself honourably by stepping down. Whatever went on in his past, he was still the best of his time along with Armstrong and a joy to watch on a TT. I don’t think any of us would be unhappy to be riding alongside him on a holiday or sportive. I’d certainly buy him an espresso and share a cake with him! Surely a Pro team has a space for him on the support staff (he could certainly give TTing lessons)

Higgins August 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Of course, he is also selling bikes these days so keeping in the public eye is in his interest, im sure he didnt mind getting recognised too much. That said, he was a great competitor, and as someone who came from the wierdness of the Eastern Bloc training camps, ala Vino, he deserves everything he gets from life.

OJT August 14, 2011 at 2:24 am

It’s easy to see why so many like Ullrich. I have fond memories of his first three Tours de France, even with the benefits of hindsight. Last year’s reports of ‘burn out’ troubled me: phrases like that tend to indicate a sad end is approaching. Nobody wants to hear about another former cyclist in tragic circumstances and hopefully it’s good news that the guy is back riding again, even if the media have spoiled his anonymity. I hope he is feeling good about life and continues to do so, in spite of forthcoming court cases.

And the CAS case itself? Ullrich ceased to be a major force in cycling at least five years ago and yet the legal eagles are still hovering over their prey. The sluggish pace of developments is bizarre. He’s not a war criminal evading capture, remaining undetected in a remote village. As far as I know, no substantive evidence has been released since Puerto. The delay is baffling and makes the Contador CAS process look slick. The case should have been resolved well before now. Most people made up their minds years ago and the current legal situation is an embarrassing footnote.

Kris August 14, 2011 at 9:32 am

At the end of the day, Jan Ullrich has wasted his enormous natural talent by being overweight most of the year, and making a fool of himself on occasion, such as one year in the Fleche Wallonne, when he quit after being dropped on the first ascent of Mur de Huy.

On the other hand, we must also say that Ullrich lived in the main epo abuse period, and he might have simply refused to go on any “regimes” outside the Tour de France framework. We all know what went on at Telekom and T-Mobile, by now. Moreover, Ullrich only needed to perform in the Tour to be a sports hero in Germany. Erik Zabel was piling up successes throughout the season and year-after-year, but always stood in the shadow of Der Jan. Most Germans won’t know Zabel if you asked them. Must have been quite frustrating.

Finally, it is a shame, and quite ridiculous, Ullrich has kept denying and has never admitted having been on PEDs, like most of his other teammates have proven to be. A few German cycling fans may pardon him now, as organised doping was not only a T-Mobile matter, but in the minds of most German people Ullrich remains a cheater.

Oetztaler Radmarathon: 238km, 5300 Hm. Joerg Jacksche also took part last year.

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