Olaf Ludwig

Olaf Ludwig ( born April 13, 1960 in Gera ) was one of Germany's most successful cyclist in the 1980s and 1990s. His greatest successes in the amateur field were two overall victories in the Peace Race in 1982 and 1986 and the Olympic gold medal in the individual competition at the Summer Olympics in 1988. As a professional, he won three stages of the Tour de France and even the sprint to the green jersey. In 1992, he was the overall winner in the bike world cup. The road Cycling World Championships the following year he took third place in the individual race of the professionals.

After his retirement, he founded the company Olaf Ludwig Cycling GmbH, the team headed T -Mobile to 31 October 2006. In addition, he held different positions in the German Cycling Federation, at the first team Team Telekom and the International Cycling Union UCI. Olaf Ludwig is married and father of three children.

Life and career

Childhood and youth

Olaf Ludwig's parents were the engineer Rolf Ludwig ( † 1977) and Sieglinde Ludwig. Since 1967, the family lived in the Gera district Thieschitz, a small suburb with a rural character. Even in his childhood Olaf Ludwig was very keen on sports - he played football and was athlete. In both sports, he possessed, in the opinion of his coaches have a certain talent.

In May 1972, Gera was a stage of the International Peace Race. This event was so impressive for the twelve -year-old Olaf that he started cycling at the SG Dynamo Gera center. There, his talent was quickly recognized. Just one year later, the boy should be delegated according to the sports development program of the GDR to a club in Berlin. This would have meant to send him to a boarding school. His parents refused, however, and Olaf remained in Gera.

From 1974, he was coached by former street rider Werner Marschner at SG bismuth Gera to the racing team of Dynamo sports society was changed, the very promoted him. After 1976 third place at the International Youth Rally in Neugersdorf, he was inducted into the Junior National Team in the GDR.

1977 was the most successful year so far for the young Olaf Ludwig. In the youth competition of friendship in Havana he won with Thomas Barth, Falk floor and André Clever in the team time trial. A few weeks later, the team won the gold medal at the Junior World Championships in the Austrian Stockerau. In August of the same year he met his future wife in a disco, Heike Födisch to know. She comes from Reichardtsdorf in Bad Koestritz. Was overshadowed this so successful for Olaf Ludwig year in November by the sudden death of his father Rolf.

The Junior World Champion title was the team in unchanged line 1978 in Washington, DC successfully defend. At the end of the same year he opened his girlfriend Heike, that she was pregnant. Then had to Ludwig, who was already on his first Olympic participation in the preparatory phase, the DTSB promise to marry her immediately after the 1980 Olympic Games. This has two reasons: first, the government was anxious that their athletes stood as of character Mr. Clean and caring family men, on the other, the danger was in athletes with familial bond less, they could use to escape from the Republic one of the frequent trips to the West.

In the summer of 1979, he put - together with Thomas Barth - at the Children's and Youth Sports School in Gera his Abitur. In addition to his cycling career began in Leipzig to study for physical education teachers, practiced the profession but never out.

Career as an amateur

In 1980, he first participated at the International Peace Race and caused a stir when he won the first stage equal to around Wroclaw / Breslau and two stages long wore the yellow jersey. In Berlin, he also won the sixth stage - a matter of prestige, since the government of the GDR was sitting at the finish line in the stands. Two days later he won the eighth stage in Halle, and then even the mountain time trial in Solenice. His first Peace Race he could finish with a third place in the overall standings.

In the same year he took part in Moscow on his first Olympic Games. In the team time trial he won with Hans -Joachim Nick Hart, Bernd Drogan and Falk ground almost the silver medal, but the individual race a few days later he was only thirty-second. Shortly after his return married Olaf and Heike Ludwig in August 1980 after their daughter Madlen came on July 7, 1979 the world.

In 1981 he won at the Niedersachsen- tour, then he celebrated five stage wins at the Peace Race and finished second in the overall standings to fourth place. Finally, in 1982 he celebrated his first Peace Race aggregate victory after he had the yellow jersey, which he had won in the prologue, the next day lost and retrieved only in the penultimate stage. The consequences of this victory, he later wrote in his autobiography hell of a ride on the ladder to heaven:

" The victorious ride in the sea of ​​flags was noisy quickly, but the enthusiasm of the people stopped. For weeks, had our post woman in Thieschitz letters and cards kilo zoom drag, after a few days they hung unnerved only the shopping bags full post to our garden fence. [ ... ] It was incredible. At that time, has become really aware of me, what responsibilities you load as an athlete to when you vornwegfährt and succeed. Whether you like it or not: It is recognized by everybody, observed at every turn, appointed social person and role model. [ ... ] And yet has given me a lot of strength this wave of attention. The intent, not to disappoint many fans and friends in the home, has haunted me all of my race as retention and drive around the globe. "

In September 1982, he was awarded the National Team of the GDR team winner at the Tour de l' Avenir in France. In 1983 he was the overall winner of this tour. In the same year he became father for the second time - on October 3, came his son Steven to the world.

In 1984, he was unable to attend the Olympic Games in Los Angeles because of the boycott of the socialist states. As a replacement were carried out on the Schleiz the so-called "International competitions of friendship". A win in these competitions, in which 33 drivers participated in eleven countries should be counted from the DTSB as an Olympic victory. Despite the home crowd Olaf Ludwig could only reach eighth place.

In 1985 he had to abandon the start at the Peace Race because of a severe cold for the first time. However, he was later overall winner of the Rhineland -Palatinate Tour.

In 1986 he won the International Peace Race for the second time. It began on 7 May in Kiev - just two weeks after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. Because of the proximity to the reactor at Chernobyl said except France and Finland from all Western countries. According to the government transfer the GDR team still went to the start, and Louis went out of the tour as a radiant winner - a term that newspapers should avoid accordance with the instructions from Berlin this year if possible. For his victory, he was in the GDR for the first time Sportsman of the Year.

In the Peace Race in 1987 first appeared to the young Uzbek Dschamolidin Abduschaparow. It was worst in the following years Louis rival. Your sprint duels were legendary.

In 1988, Olaf Ludwig in Seoul Olympic champion in the road race before the two Federal German Bernd Gröne and Christian Henn. He was subsequently honored by Erich Honecker with the Patriotic Order of Merit in Gold for this victory. He was also the second time Sportsman of the Year.

The year 1989 was disappointing for Ludwig. After a mediocre performance at the Peace Race he broke at the World Championships in Chambéry, France the right thumb and was unable to attend the competitions. In the fall, was added a broken wrist, which he sustained in a trip to Australia with the East German national team. Already at that time he was considering an end to his career.

Career as a professional

After the Berlin Wall in the autumn of 1989, he decided in the same year for a new career as a professional. First, Louis planned a contract with the team Stuttgart (from the 1991 Team Telekom was born), but the contract was signed on 27 December burst due to a technical glitch - Louis answering machine had not saved the message, where the signing was to take place. Therefore, Louis signed on December 29 signed a contract with the Dutch team Panasonic Sport Life. This signature of the contract meant that Olaf Ludwig and his family had to move to the Netherlands. In early 1990, attracted Louis to Valkenburg. A few years later they built a house in Kornelimünster near Aachen.

His first professional race was the Ruta del Sol in February 1990, where he was able to win the first two stages. In the same year he won a stage and the green jersey for the best sprinter in the Tour de France.

In April 1992, he finished second at the legendary road race Paris -Roubaix. With this route, he combined in his entire professional career, a love-hate relationship - In 1993 he was third in this race, in 1994 in fourth. Caused the second place in 1992, that Louis took the lead in the World Cup. He was able to keep the lead until the final race of the season in October in Majorca and was at the end of the season World Cup winner.

Shortly after his second place finish at Paris- Roubaix, he won the Amstel Gold Race in Maastricht and was now celebrated in his new Dutch home as a hero. In May, he won the Four Days of Dunkirk. In July he won the last stage of the Tour de France on the Champs- Élysées. He was also elected to Germany for cyclist of the year before the runner-up Jens Heppner end of 1992.

In 1993 he moved to Team Telekom, for which he was able to enter the first stage victory in the Tour de France on July 17 in Montpellier. On August 29, he finished third in the individual race at the World Championships in Oslo professionals behind Lance Armstrong and Miguel Indurain.

In the fall of 1993, Ludwig was the third time father - his daughter Romina came on 31 October to the world.

In 1994 he won the race Around the Henninger Tower. The following year 1995 was extremely unsatisfactory for him - at Paris -Roubaix, he was 24th in the Tour de France, he retired prematurely after he had reached only accommodate 161 at the ninth stage. Then he decided, now with 36 years to concentrate on his 1996 third part in the Olympics and then to end his career. On 5 October 1995, he was awarded by the mayor of Gera Ralf Rauch made ​​an honorary citizen of his hometown.

After some bad luck in the spring of 1996 - tire damage prevented a success at the Tour of Flanders, at Three Days of De Panne or Paris -Roubaix - he was eighth in Around the Henninger Tower and won on July 12 for the second time the Rhineland- Pfalz- tour. Then he started on 31 July for the individual race at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, but there could be only Sixteenth. Olympic champion was calculated by the Swiss Pascal Richard, who - was trained by Wolfram Lindner, who was Swiss national coach now - as Louis eight years earlier in his Olympic victory.

On October 3, 1996 Louis went on a tour around Gera his final race and won before Dschamolidin Abduschaparow. The finish line in the stadium of friendship pursued 20,000 spectators. Then a farewell gala for Ludwig took place at the Erwin - Panndorf Hall.

After that, he was still driving in winter 1996/97 at the Six Days in Dortmund, Cologne, Bremen, Stuttgart, Berlin and Milan. In Cologne and Berlin, he was able to win it again. His last race was a final farewell race for Danny Clark, Michael Hübner and Olaf Ludwig in the night from 14 to 15 February 1997.

After the End of career

1997 his autobiography was published hell of a ride on the ladder to heaven, issued by the sports journalists Helmut Wengel. This includes, among other posts by Täve Schur, Eddy Merckx and Mario Kummer. Looking back on his career Ludwig says it:

"I have no regrets. Not even my past in the GDR, to which I am. The system I have my education to thank for my promotion and my ascent into the world's top amateur cycling. That we do not call the system in which we have been carefully protected, promoted and guarded in question - who wants to charge us in retrospect? The key for me was always the human condition, the interaction with each other, help each other, the care of one for the other. I've always tried to stay I -. Whether athletic, political or private "

After the end of his career was Olaf Ludwig 1999/2000 Vice President of the Federal German cyclists ( BDR). In 2000, he was spokesman for the Telekom team (since 2003 Team T-Mobile) and a member of the Professional Committee of the International Cycling Union UCI.

After the T-Mobile team was led in 2005 by the double-headed Walter Godefroot / Olaf Ludwig, she transferred in 2006, founded by Olaf Ludwig Company Olaf Ludwig Cycling GmbH, the sole leadership of the team. After completion of the Tour de France in the same year, the main sponsor was reported to provide future cooperation with both Ludwig and with Mario Kummer to the test. On July 30, 2006 T -Mobile finally announced to end the collaboration with Louis on 31 October of the same year.

Since then, Ludwig organized jointly with former Peace Race organizer Jörg Strenger cycling rides.

Today Olaf Ludwig lives with his family in Breinig near Aachen.