Farewell then, fat lad!

So Jan Ullrich has announced his retirement:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=news/2007/feb07/feb26news2

(Incidentally cyclingnews.com is one of the best sources of cycling news out there)

Who now will us amateurs look to for inspiration when we suffer with our “winter weight issues”? This legion of nearly men and battlers who for years have relied on the misfortunes and struggles of Jan to inspire us. We may laugh at his woes but there is something incredibly likeable about the guy.

Frankly I can’t bring myself to dislike a pro who ends up getting a ban because he went out clubbing and got some dodgy E cut with speed (amphetamines). Or who genuinely challenged Armstrong’s obsessive preparation by sheer force even when not on top of his game.

In particular this is a rider who had the common decency to sit up and wait when Lance Armstrong fell in 2003, knowing that he had done the same when Jan fell in 2001. And not a word of complaint despite it possibly costing him the Tour when Lance surged back past him, nor about the problems he had endured with his team collapsing around him.

Let’s not forget this guy won the Tour De France at 23, an age when most riders haven’t got much beyond stating it as an ambition, and in doing so wrestled control of the Telekom team from the titleholder – and his nominal team captain – Bjarne Riis. He won the Olympic Road race in 2000 and was a Time Trial World Champion.

So raise a glass to Jan Ullrich, the fat lad who done good.



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