Jan Ullrich

Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich
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Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and a Tour de France rivalry that brought tears

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Lance Armstrong reportedly breaks down into tears in Sunday’s second episode of his ESPN documentary, discussing his closest rival during his run of seven Tour de France titles, all later stripped for doping.

Armstrong visited Jan Ullrich in Germany in 2018, after Ullrich was released from a psychiatric hospital following multiple reported arrests over assault charges.

“The reason I went to see him is I love him,” Armstrong said, followed by tears, according to reports. “It was not a good trip. He was the most important person in my life.”

Ullrich struggled with reported substance abuse, saying in a 2018 letter in German newspaper Bild that he detoxed in a Miami facility and that he had “an illness.”

Ullrich, after winning the 1997 Tour de France, finished second to Armstrong in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

He retired in 2007. In 2013, he admitted to doping during his career (which had been widely assumed), five months after Armstrong confessed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“Nobody scared me, motivated me. The other guys … no disrespect to them, didn’t get me up early,” Armstrong said in the ESPN film, according to Cycling Weekly. “He got me up early. And [in 2018] he was just a f—ing mess.”

Armstrong and Ullrich’s most notable Tour de France interactions: In Stage 10 in 2001, on the iconic Alpe d’Huez, Armstrong gave what came to be known as “The Look,” turning back to stare in sunglasses at Ullrich, then accelerating away to win the stage by 1:59.

In Stage 15 in 2003, Armstrong’s handlebars caught a spectator’s yellow bag. He crashed to the pavement. Ullrich and others slowed to allow Armstrong to remount and catch up. Armstrong won the stage, upping his lead from 15 seconds to 1:07, eventually winning the Tour by 1:01, by far the closest of his seven titles (again, all later stripped).

For Armstrong, Ullrich began transforming from rival to friend in 2005. After Armstrong won his last (later stripped) Tour de France that July, he was told Ullrich wanted to show up at Armstrong’s victory party in a luxury Paris hotel. Ullrich wanted to say a few words in front of hundreds of Armstrong supporters.

“If you know Jan, you know that his English is not great,” Armstrong said in a 2017 episode of one of his podcasts. “I’m just going, no, this can’t be happening. This is not real. Jan showed up and took the mic and gave a speech and talked about me and talked about us. It was the classiest thing that anybody ever did for me in my cycling career. I’ll never forget it. I love him for it.

“I wasn’t man enough to do that. If the roles were reversed, there’s no way I would have done that. But for him to do that, that’s something that I’ll never forget the rest of my life.”

In 2017, Armstrong was upset that Ullrich wasn’t invited to appear at the Tour de France’s opening stages, held in Germany that year. In 2013, when Ullrich fessed up to doping, he said of his chief rival and fellow cheater, “I am no better than Armstrong, but no worse either.”

Ullrich (and other dopers) kept his Tour de France title, a fact that Armstrong has brought up in interviews since his confession. Ullrich was reportedly asked in 2016 by CyclingTips if he considered Armstrong a seven-time Tour de France champion.

“This is a hard question,” he said, according to the report. “It’s not good, that in all those years, you have no winner. It’s not good for history, it’s not good for the Tour de France. I have heard all the stories about Lance. It’s a hard question. I don’t know the answer. I’m not the judge. But for the history of the Tour de France, it’s not good that there is no winner.”

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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Jan Ullrich, Tour de France winner, arrested over alleged attack

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BERLIN (AP) — Tour de France and Olympic champion Jan Ullrich was arrested early Friday and is in police custody for allegedly attacking an escort at a Frankfurt hotel.

Police spokesperson Carina Lerch said the retired German cyclist was arrested after police were called to the hotel. She said Ullrich was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and could be charged with “assault or attempted murder.”

“It seems Mr. Ullrich and an escort women had a dispute and that he attacked her,” Lerch said. “She alerted the hotel staff and they called police. Mr. Ullrich is still in custody.”

A police statement said the woman needed medical treatment. Lerch said no further details could be given on her condition while police were investigating.

News agency DPA reported that the 44-year-old Ullrich had been arrested the week before in Mallorca, where he lives, after an incident on the property of his neighbor, actor Til Schweiger.

On Monday, Ullrich had told German tabloid Bild of personal problems.

“The separation from Sara and distance from my children, whom I have not seen since Easter and have barely spoken to, have had a great effect on me. I have done things as a result that I very much regret,” Ullrich told the mass circulation daily.

Ullrich, the only German to win the Tour de France, was dogged by doping allegations over his career and admitted to German magazine Focus in 2013 that he received blood-doping treatment from Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

“Almost everyone took performance-enhancing substances then. I took nothing that the others didn’t also take,” the 1997 Tour champion said then.

Ullrich, who earned gold and silver medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, served a two-year ban for doping in 2012, five years after he retired in 2007.

MORE: Ullrich does not intend to return Olympic medals

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