Today in History
27.7.1997: Jan Ullrich wins the Tour de France
The decisive moment during the tenth leg was when the young German, Jan Ullrich, set off alone up the hill after Andorra-Acalis. None of his main rivals could keep up, not even Richard Virenque from France or the Dane, Bjarne Rijs, who were also in the Telekom team. On July 15, 1997, Ullrich not only came in first on this difficult Pyrenees stage, he also wore the leader’s yellow shirt -- for the first time in his career.

He was only at risk of losing the yellow shirt once, on the Vosegen leg, when the Festina team and its captain, Virenque, took the lead for a short time. Yet even this attack was parried by the Telekom cyclist and Ullrich rode into Paris wearing yellow.

It took 84 years for a German cyclist’s name to head the Tour de France list. Most leaders have been French, especially in the first decades of this longest and most difficult race in the world. Later, the Italians, Belgians, a Dutchman, an American and a Dane got their names on the winner’s list.

And the Germans? Not a trace! A number of Germans had finished in good positions, in the 1930s and in the 1960s and 1970s. They included Rudi Altig and Dietrich Thurau.

There is still speculation about how East German cyclists would have fared in the Tour. In the 1970s and 1980s, Bernd Drogan from Cottbus, Uwe Raab and Uwe Ampler from Leipzig won the individual amateur world championships several times. But the careers of western European race cyclists, who switched from amateur to professional, show how difficult it is to make the grade. Altig and Thurau wore the yellow shirt on several legs. Yet they never managed to keep it until the last leg to the Champs Elysees in Paris.

None of the German cyclists managed to win the Tour. Each time, the routes across the Pyrenees and the Alps proved too arduous. Ullrich was the first to manage it. He not only races well on mountainous terrain, he is also an excellent speed man, who is skilled at keeping the lead on the flat legs. In short: he is an all-round racer. When the trophy was presented in Paris, Peter Becker was also there. He has been Ullrich’s trainer since 1986, when the Rostock-born man was assigned to the Children’s and Youth Sport Academy in East Berlin. At that time, Ullrich was 12.

On this day in late July in 1997, German cycling sport took on new dynamics. Like tennis, when Boris Becker won Wimbledon, and motor racing, when Michael Schumacher won the Formula 1 championship, cycling suddenly experienced a boom in popularity.

Many children and young people joined cycling clubs and hundreds of thousands of spectators have since lined the sides of the roads in elite races. The sponsors are also happy. Several doping scandals, which brought the sport into disrepute, do not seem to have changed this.
Zitat des Tages
Zitat des Tages
German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch was born on this day in 1940. In which of the following cities is she ballet director?