'I was almost dead': Jan Ullrich speaks out on his recovery on Lance Armstrong's podcast

The former Tour de France winner spoke about how finding friends in Armstrong and others after re-adopting a healthy lifestyle

Lance Armstrong with Jan Ullrich on the on the 2005 Tour de France podium
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jan Ullrich has spoken out about how he was close to suffering the same fate as Marco Pantani, saying that he was "almost dead" when Lance Armstrong went to see him in 2018.

Ullrich, who's career was tarnished by a doping scandal, spoke about his history of issues with alcohol and drugs that led to alleged physical attacks but now he feels "very happy", as he's cycling with a healthy diet.

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Speaking in Armstrong's podcast, The Move, in Mallorca along with George Hincapie and Johan Bruyneel, Ullrich said: "Three years ago I had big problems and then you came to see me. I was so glad you came and yes, I was just like Marco Pantani. Almost dead. And then I recover and I have good friends, now I am very happy.”  

The German spoke about how he is back cycling again with his new healthy lifestyle: “God gave me this body and God gave me this talent. With me it's either nothing or full throttle. I have my coach for my back muscles. I train every day and drink water. I live very healthy, my girlfriend cooks very healthy for me."

Ullrich said that he had forgotten what was good for him "for 20 or 15 years," with the rejuvenated lifestyle and cycling helping him recover from his addiction problems.

"Cycling is good," he continued. "Hang-out with friends. Love. My children. My family. I had forgotten all that. That was my problem."

Ullrich was runner-up to Armstrong at the Tour de France three times between 2000 and 2003, with Ullrich also taking third in 2005. The latter was struck off due to doping, as were all seven of Armstrong's titles.

Armstrong, when introducing Ullrich to the show, gave the 47-year-old German huge praise saying: "He's a very special person. Not just a great guy but he's been a great friend and I've tried to be a great friend to him.

"He was our biggest rival, he was the guy that got us up every day, I didn't care about anybody else. All these other guys that thought they were contenders, they were straight-up pretenders."

Ullrich podiumed at the Tour seven times including one victory in 1997 when he beat Richard Virenque and the late Marco Pantani.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.