Jan Ullrich (born December 2, 1973, Rostock, Germany) is a professional bicycle racer. He has finished in second place in the Tour de France five times and won the race in 1997. He was the first German to do so, which led to a bicycle sports boom in Germany. He also won a gold medal in the Olympics 2000 in Sydney and the Vuelta a España as well.
Ullrich won his first bicycle race (at school) at the early age of nine. He was educated by the sports training system of the GDR, and attended the SC Dynamo sports school in Berlin in 1986. After the fall of the Berlin wall his trainer Peter Becker moved with Ullrich to Hamburg.
After this and other successes, Ullrich became a professional member of Team Telekom. He moved together with his girlfriend to Merdingen in the south of Germany.
In his first one and a half years as a professional he was inconspicuous. At his first start at the Tour de France in 1996 he reached a sensational second place behind his Danish team mate Bjarne Riis. He won the final individual time trial and secured himself his first Tour leg.
In 1997 he started as favorite in the Tour de France. But only after a dominant win in a leg in the Mountains and his first yellow jersey, did the Germans start following the tour. The french sports newspaper L'Equipe considered him as one of the top bikers with the words "Voilà le Patron". Ullrich won another leg in the tour and became the first German to win the tour. He was 23 years at the time and considered one of the youngest winners ever. He was chosen "sports person of the year" in Germany in 1997.
After a positive blood sample for amphetamines, in 2002, Ullrich's contract with Team Telekom was ended, and he was banned for 6 months. Ullrich then joined the Team Coast outfit, but after severe financial problems Coast pulled its sponsorship, and Team Bianchi was formed.
In terms of finishes, Jan Ullrich could be compared with Raymond Poulidor, who was called the "eternal second" (with the difference that Poulidor never won the Tour de France), but a better candidate would probably be Joop Zoetemelk, who won the Tour one time as well and finished in second place six times, only one more than Ullrich.