• Jan Ullrich in his racing days. (Getty)Source: Getty
No official invite has been offered by Tour de France organisers to former champion Jan Ullrich for the 2017 start in Dusseldorf, Germany.
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10 Nov 2016 - 1:32 PM  UPDATED 10 Nov 2016 - 1:36 PM

The German continues to live with the fallout of a career spent at the height of the doping era and a later confession that he too was an active participant in the culture of the time.

Ullrich won the Tour in 1997, so Dusseldorf would mark 20 years since he became the first German to win the race. It's also 30 years since Germany hosted a start of the Tour.

Aggressive Tour route set for 2017
Tour de France organisers announced a dynamic and interesting route for the 2017 edition of the race and a mountain stage for the women's La Course.

Those two milestones should make it an easy call for Tour organisers but the 42-year-old continues to carry the baggage of a career which ended in disgrace a decade ago.

Yet, despite the official snub, Ullrich told Cyclingnews he plans to be there in an unofficial capacity and intends to contribute in his own way.

"Absolutely," he said. "From my side, I was not ready to go back in professional sport. I watched all the races on the TV and I didn't go directly to the Tour de France.

"But next year is twenty years from my win and the Tour starts in Germany. I can help there.

"I have an all-star race before the start with (Miguel) Indurain and all the big heroes. We can make a lot of good things there."

Its taken German cycling years to recover from the doping era, defined as much by Ullrich's Telekom team as it was Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service.

Germany was as unforgiving of his sins as America were of Armstrong's but the price was in many ways higher there, with broadcasters punishing fans and riders alike by dumping local Tour coverage.

Today, cycling in Germany has recovered and been redefined by a new crop of likable, talented and telegenic riders, Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Tony Martin (Katusha) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), all vociferous in their stance against doping.

Perhaps Tour organisers think Ullrich's presence in Dusseldorf would sully the event despite him being a significant part of its history. However, an invite may also help heal the wounds of the past.

 

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