Schlagwort-Archive: Lance Armstrong

ROLF GOELZ

PORTRAIT

The sober one

„I will never become the winner of the Tour de France, but rather a millionaire” once said Rolf Goelz and he turned out to be right. He was one of the most successful German bicycle riders in 1980 as well as  a classics specialist. After his career he remained successful as a businessman.

Rolf Gölz

Rolf Goelz with his original Colnago Bicycle from the 1980th in front of his bicycle store in Bad Waldsee/Baden Wuerttemberg (Germany).

BY DIRK KUNZ (TEXT AND PHOTOS)

BAD WALDSEE ■ The 17th stage of the Tour de France is shown on TV in the spacious salesroom of the bicycle shop of Rolf Goelz in Bad Waldsee/Germany. The former professional cyclist and the two time Tour de France stage winner looks only briefly at the flat screen. “That was a long time ago.” During the day, he has no time to watch the race. In the evening he watches the run-down sometimes. But he is not very sentimental.
After his athletic career Goelz studied economics, a decision driven by reason. He didn’t dare to try studying ​Engineering (“Too much ​math”) and because he wanted to open a bicycle store it was appropriate to choose Business Studies. Furthermore the University of Applied Sciences Biberach was in his neighbourhood and he could continue living at home. After his studies he worked in his bike store, but selling bicycles and standing around in the salesroom was not quite, what he really wanted and so the offer by Hans-Michael Holczer in 2002 to work for him came at the right time. Untill 2006, he worked as the athletic director for the German Gerolsteiner professional team. After that, he worked as a manager for a local rental car company. Then Goelz recieved an offer to open an bicycle online store. H​e takes care ​of all commercial aspects​ of his store​, ​while ​his partner Rolf Weggenmann is responsible for ​business operations​.  In his online shop he is the sole Managing Director.
Racingbikes with mudguards and a baggage carriers are not for sale in his shop. This type of bicyle was very common in the 1970th. Briefly before his communion such a bike was given to him by his step grandfather.

First race won

He used this type of bike in his first race. The local bike club was searching for talented riders: The course led across two miles (three kilometers) on a country lane from Bad Schussenried to Otterswang and back. Even today Goelz takes this path to work three times a week by bike. (Nowadays he rides approximately 1900 miles/3000 Kilometers per year.)
Really he should not be allowed to compete. He just got a smallpox vaccination and doctors discouraged him from ​engaging in ​strenuous physical activity. Goelz ​snuck into the race and won. The bike club gave him a real rac​ing​bike und he trained twice a week.
The results came early and nearly incidentally – typically for his career. He rode as​ a​ junior​ member of​ the ​m​en´s street team time trial​ ​and had to ride ​solo path​ at the German championship. He didn’t have a track bike, so he rented one, train​ing​​ twice on ​the ​track ​and ​becoming the national champion in 1980.
His track trainer from 1982 to 1984, Udo Hempel, still dreams about his graceful and astonishing physical abilities. Goelz would be absolutely focused on his sport, you had to slow him down. After a three hour high intensive training session you practically had to force him off the track.  His self confidence was below his abilities. He said, it was all about ​proving to himself, what he was capable of. “His passion for bicycling combined with his intelligence made his class.” In 1982 he won the silver medal at the Track championship in Great Britain, one year later he got the Gold medal in the 4000 Meter team pursuit at the world championship in Zurich (Switzerland). At the Olympic Games 1984 in Los Angeles he won a silver and bronze medal on track.

An Upper Swabian in Italy

These important wins were a superb opportunities for scoring a professional contract. Goelz had previously contact to Ernesto Colnago. At a bike exhibition in Cologne the famous bike producer contacted Goelz and asked him to ride for the Team Del Tongo-Colnago and so the down to earth rider signed up for the Italian team.
The linguistically talented Upper Swabian was fully integrated into the team of Mediterranean riders and could communicate in French, English and Italian. And again he achieved good results immediately: The Tour of Andalusia was his first race as a professional and he won, beating Miguel Indurain, who finished second place.
Giuseppe Saronni was a distinguished rider of the Del Tongo-Team, but the 32 years old Italien had passed his zenith. When Goelz realized that Saronni was saturated and not very diligent and he couldn’t convert his team´s effort for him into victories, and so he rode more and more on his own.
In his second year he said that Saronni declared that Goelz shouldn´t start at the Giro d´ Italia. Goelz still had a contract for a third year but he asked Ernesto Colnago for termination of the contract. Even now, ​his relationship ​with Saronni is ​shattered.  Goelz explains the fast results in the bare-knuckle professional business, that he rode bicycle in a complete different time: The riders stopped competing in October and started ​up again gradually ​around Christmas. The bicycle riders ​arrived at the first races​ poorly trained.
Goelz was really surprised; during the Tour of Andalusia in February, he said that, the professional athletes rode 90 Miles (150 Kilometers) on the little chain ring of his bikes and It was ​only ​in ​the last 18 miles​ (30 Kilometers)  stretch​ that the real race started. The change from amateurs to professional cyclists was easy for him, because he always trained a lot in the winter months and was in a good condition in the spring time. After leaving the Saronni-Team, he attended the Team Super Confex of Jan Raas and after three years he rode for the Buckler-Colnago and by 1991/92 he had a contract with Ariostea, where Moreno Argentin and Bjarne Riis were also employed. After eight years of professional cycling Goelz retired as​​ he had ​lost all motivation. The expectations of the media, the spectators and his employers burdened him. The pressure of winning all the time and the lack of appreciation of his results if he finished “only” second place took away his cycling pleasure.
Hartmut Boelts wanted to recruit him for the Mountainbike World Cup. He thought that Goelz could easily compete. But even early in the professionalization of the mountain bike sport it was not so easy to change from street racing to off-road racing. He won one race, but in this race he had to ride uphill on a gravel road, ​doing it with a mountain bike instead of a road bike​. ​​It wasn’t very technically challenging. At the World cup races​,​ he ​quickly dropped out of the qualification​ round​, ​not least because of the brutal downhill gradient. At the bottom of the valley he had such an over acidified musculature, that he wasn’t able to ride fast uphill anymore. But he doesn’t want to ​overlook this ​point: “The camaraderie was great!”

Tour de France Trophäen von Rolf Gölz

Rolf Goelz´ trophies from the Tour de France 1987 and 1988. He won the stretch from Tarbes to Blagnac and one year later the stretch from Reins to Nancy.

Even today he ​looks back fondly on his two stage wins ​from the Tour​ de France​ and the Championship of Zurich 1987 and one year later the victory of the Fleche Wallonne (the Walloon Arrow), a major men’s professional cycle road race held in April each year in Wallonia, Belgium. The father of two grown up sons enjoyed the classic cycle races: “I was good in riding little mountains uphill, a strong sprinter, I trained seriously in the winter months and I liked the cool weather.”
Goelz is a pragmatist. Money is important to him, he doesn’t want to count every Euro, but his father was a civil servant, and at home they had to save money. As a teenager, he also cycled to school every day by bike, because he could keep the money he saved for public transportation. During the Tour de France 1989 he said: “I will never become the winner of the Tour de France, but rater a millionaire.” He achieved this goal at least in “Deutsche Mark”-Times. The 52 years old remained down to earth and he doesn’t splurge. He drives a ten year old car; it is not a Porsche. He said that he could earn more money in his athletic career. He hardly ever rode in well-paid Six-day racings and he gave up 500.000 Marks (250.000 Euro), because he ended his career prematurely in 1992.

Doping

Of course Goelz realized that doping was prevalent during in his time as ​an ​athlete​. Epo didn’t exist back then, but Human Growth Hormones (HGH), anabolic steroids, amphetamines and cortisone abounded. He said that there were always riders who had taken less or more. Every single rider had to choose for himself just how far he was willing to go to win.
“But I also know that it was possible on a good day to win without doping. I have proven it.” ​Later, with the advent of EPO​, this was​ not possible anymore​.​​That’s why Rolf Goelz doesn’t want to condemn riders who took part in ​doping ​and he can’t understand the ​public ​condemnation of Lance Armstrong.
He thinks back of the Tour de France 1987, the last one  ​that was over 2500 miles (4000 Kilometers), one of his two stage victories, he won that year. In the last three stages all of the riders where totally exhausted. So they rode 100 Miles (160 kilometers) very slowly and Lord help the guy, who wanted to ride faster. Only during the last 18 miles (30 kilometers) did performance pick back up. He said it is possible to ride the Tour without doping, then the athletes just arrive at the finsih line a little bit later. But it´s  human nature, to win at any costs. Goelz is a realist through and through.

Seit 2013 verkauft Gölz und sein Geschäftspartner auf 600 Quadratmeter Fahrräder in Bad Waldsee.

Since 2013​ Rolf Goelz and his business partner ​have sold bicycle​s​​ out of his ​6500-square foot shop in Bad Waldsee​, Germany.​

Translation into the English language by Shellie Labell & Dirk KUNZ

Left behind

Left behind

BY DIRK KUNZ

Heinrich Trumheller mit dem Deutschen Meistertrikot der Straßenfahrer aus dem Jahr 1992 vor seinem Lebensmittelgeschäft in Nürnberg. Foto: KUNZ

Heinrich Trumheller with the jersey of the German National Road Race Championship from 1992 in front of his grocery store in Nuremberg /Germany.                                                                                                                        Photo: KUNZ

BY DIRK KUNZ

NUREMBERG ■ Heinrich Trumheller, 42 years old, former professional road cyclist, speaks little and takes a lot of time between the words. He speaks quietly and even after 20 years in Germany you realize that Russian is his first language. He remembers his beginnings as an athlete in the Sovjetunion. He didn’t attend a residential school like so many physically gifted children. His father trained him at home. Home, that was Nalchik, today´s capital city of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, Russia. Peter Trumheller wanted his son to become a proper apprentice and to attend school regularly. In the residential sport schools of the old days, he says, that they trained too much and learned to little.
In the afternoon after school Heinrich Trumheller rode his bicycle with his father for two or three hours almost every day. On Mondays and Thursdays he took the day off. 8.000 miles at the age of eleven, one year later approximately 11.000 miles, and everything on a bike with a “Diamant” frame from GDR-Production. “Very large, very heavy, but much better than anything that you could buy in the Soviet Union”, says Trumheller.
Altogether he says that in the Soviet Union they trained harder, everything was more professionally organized and the enormous numbers of high performance riders were impressive.

Fast results

With this advance he came to Germany in the midyear 1990. His father was a successful bicycle rider in the Sovjetunion and drove in the CCCP-National Team. He belongs to the ethnic group of the so called Volga Germans and he moves with his wife and his two sons Heinrich and Harry to Donaueschingen/Germany, because some of their relatives lived there already.
Friends and other relatives were left behind, that was difficult for the older brother Heinrich, but regarded from the sportman’s point of view the change was no problem.
In 1991 Trumheller won the Tour of Slovakia and also the traditional German race “Cologne-Schuld-Frechen”. One year later as a rider for the Swiss professional cycling team “Helvetia” he reached the 6th place at the Tour de Suisse overall standing, only 29 seconds behind Greg LeMond, his big role model, who ended up in third place. At the 7th stage of the Tour, in a very hard final and because of a tactical mistake, he was beaten by Sean Kelly and came in second. In this impressive shape he came to the German bicycle championship to the “Sachenring”, a racing circuit located near Chemnitz, Saxony. The weather was hot, Trumheller liked that. So he became the German National Road Race Champion in 1992.
As his Helvetia Team dissolved at the end of the year, he had free choice and a lot of job offers from other teams. He went to the French “Castorama”-Team. Retrospectively probably not the best choice.
“Probably I could have better developed my abilities better in Italy”, says Trumheller. Now he realised what he had lost with the old team. He says that the Helvetia Team was very well organized with a smart tactic during the races, maybe a kind of surrogate family for Heinrich Trumheller.

Frosty frenchmen

The trainer legend Paul Köchli, the sporting director of Helvetia always made sure that each rider could find himself in a situation in which e can develop best and tried to improve the natural development of the athlete. At “Castorama” in contrast, every member drove selfishly only for his own benefit, it was a frosty climate in the French team. Trumheller says, that Cyrille Guimard, the directeur sportif was to blame because he even enforced selfish riding. To Trumheller Guimard appeared indifferent and unmotivated.
After two years, in 1995, he joined to the German Team Telekom and besides him the Team contracted Jan Ullrich, Cycling World Amateur Road Champion from 1993. Trumheller says in that year Ullrich was outdistanced in the races as often as him.
But in 1996 Ullrich finished second at the Tour de France and one year later, he won the most important and toughest bicycle race in the world superiorly. At that time, Trumheller already rides in the second class Team “Schauff-Öschelbronn”.
In 1989, at the Junior World Road Championship in Moscow, he outdistanced Lance Armstrong, four years later the US-American became UCI Road World Champion in Oslo, Norway. At the end of Trumhellers career the Texan started to win the Tour de France seven times in a row. Trumheller says Ullrich and Armstrong were great talents, so was Trumheller.
“After that I rode one or two years in the good old times”, he said slightly melancholy. In the professional races the first 50 miles were ridden slowly and only then the race went off.

Aliens on bikes

But what happened then, it makes him shake his head in disbelief even today. He says he was astonished how the other athletes rode all of a sudden. They passed him like motorcyclists, he says, whole teams speeded as if they would come from another planet. Trumheller laughs quietly. He often laughs during the conversation, when he talks about the incredible performance difference between the riders. It is a laughter which is fed by resignation.
It was simply completely impossible to hold their pace. He wanted to become a good cycling professional, that´s what he says at the beginning of his career in 1992. “I haven´t succeeded. I didn’t have good results”, he said today self-critically. “I achieved my biggest victories clean and a long time I rode only with bread and water (undoped).”
He knew which performances he was capable of, and then below-average riders flew past him, who in former times he had only seen at the start of a race and after it in the shower. Huge and heavy riders passed him when climbing the mountain, that was very depressing, he says.
As he tried to explain to his father that the huge performance differences in the rider’s field had to do with doping, he didn´t believe his son: “You don’t exercise hard enough”, his father said, but the differences were so massive, that you could exercise as much as you wanted, without any effect.
In the years 1998/1999, at the end of his career, he tried doping himself. He says, he took EPO, but it was miles away from a medicated doping that the other riders did, he didn’t have the connections. His father taught him fairplay and honesty, but he was desperate.
With 21 years he saw a team-mate giving himself an EPO-shot. Later another team-mate, an assistant of a former Tour de France winner, appeared at breakfast and lunch each time with ten pills. For this rider the daily intake in public was not a big problem.
Nowadays, Trumheller, the married head of a family, rides his bike only occasionally. For ten years he hasn’t been back to his Russian homeland. He doesn’t stand a chance beating his father on bike, who became this fall men´s time trial world champion for the athletes over 70 years. Today, he sells delicacies from Eastern Europe in his grocery store in Nuremberg/Germany. He hardly watches bicycle races on TV, to his former colleagues he has no contact anymore.

 

EPILOG

BY DIRK KUNZ

DirkKunzHeinrich Trumheller was difficult to find. Even in the brave new world of the internet. There is an article from 2001 in a German-Russian newspaper. Back then he ran a grocery store in Nuremberg. His store doesn’t exist anymore. There is still a store under this address, but the recent manager doesn’t know Trumheller.
A few years ago he changed to a rival store, where he sold “Russian chocolate, Ukrainian cucumber and polish vodka against east European homesickness”, that is written in an article of the local newspaper. His former boss hasn’t had any contact to him for three years. There is one entry of this family name (with a female first name) in the phone book of Nuremberg. But no one picks up the phone. The number leads to an apartment building in a Nuremberg suburb. The other residents don’t know the name, don’t want to know or hang up the phone.
The chairman of a local bike club is very polite and he wants to ask around in Nuremberg: The bicycle scene is very well connected, he said. I should call him again in the middle of the week. So I call him back a few days later. He regrets: No, he couldn’t help me, he talked to some bike veterans and yes, they knew the name, but not more. But there were two other bicycle clubs in the city. I should try it there.
The press spokesman of another club gives me the phone number of a bicycle shop owner, who was sporting and executive director of the professional bike team “Team Nuremberger”. Yes, he knew Heinrich. Two years ago he was invited to a party at Trumheller´s grocery store, unfortunately he hadn’t his cell phone number. But to this party Dr. Albert Guessbacher was also invited. Guessbacher was the former medical supervisor of the German National Bicycle Team for Amateurs. “Guessi” might know, what Heinrich Trumheller is doing now.
Dr. Guessbacher has known Heinrich Trumheller since he lives in Nuremberg. A few years ago Trumheller invited him to his store to eat shashlik. The doctor gives me three cell phone numbers of Trumheller, two of them are already given to other cell phone costumers, who have no relation to Trumheller whatsoever, the third number doesn’t exist. Dr. Guessbacher describes Trumheller as a very silent, shy and humble athlete. It is difficult to gain acceptance in the cycling business for such a person, he said.
Guessbacher gives me the address of the store, where he was invited for dinner, but in this street with this street number there is no store recorded on the internet. A phone call at a butcher’s shop with the same street number doesn’t help. No, the butchery shop assistant knows nothing about a grocery store with this address.
On eBay I found something. Someone with a different first and a similar looking family name is selling bicycles in the Nuremberg area. The costumers, which want to buy a bike, are requested to look at the bikes at this implied address. I register on eBay and get the cell phone number of the seller. Yes, Heinrich Trumheller was his brother, the person on the phone told me, and that he could give me his cell phone number. The shy former professional cyclist Heinrich Trumheller affirms an appointment. In the Interview he is honest and open but also reserved. After the interview, I sent Trumheller some further questions. Staying in contact with the former bicycle rider is still difficult. Maybe he doesn´t like to talk so much.