By Jonny Long
Jan Ullrich is set for his longest bike ride since he last competed in Milan - San Remo in 1997 this weekend, the German healthy again and having trained hard for the Gran Fondo Mallorca 312, which contains 5,000 vertical metres over a course of more than 300km.
The German former pro is healthy and happy again following a dark period in his life, saying he came close to suffering the same fate as Marco Pantani, that he was "almost dead" when Lance Armstrong went to visit him in 2018.
Since then, he has started cycling again, which has helped him regain a healthy lifestyle and recover from his addiction problems, having a history of alcohol and drug issues and saying he had forgotten what was good for him "for 20 or 15 years".
The culmination of a year spent training hard will come in Mallorca, where Ullrich currently lives with his girlfriend.
"I have trained less in recent years than I would like," Ullrich told Wielerflits. “Over the past year I have been on the bike a lot and I also feel myself getting stronger. But ambitions? Knock me through it safely and don't fall.”
Ullrich was joined on the Spanish island by Joseba Beloki, the German having been witness to Beloki's horrible crash at the 2003 Tour de France.
"It's fantastic to see him doing well, the last thing I can remember of him is his crash," Ullrich said.
Ullrich and Beloki will be joined by the likes of Alberto Contador and Oscar Freire as ambassadors of the Gran Fondo Mallorca.
A photo posted by on
Ullrich has certainly been throwing himself back into the cycling world, having recently had coffee with Tadej Pogačar in Paris.
"A special meeting with someone special," Ullrich wrote on Instagram. "Last week I met the reigning Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar for a coffee in Paris. Was a pleasure meeting you again champ."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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