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Alex Zülle (born 5 July 1968) is a Swiss former professional road bicycle racer. During the 1990s he was one of the best cyclists in the world, winning back-to-back in the 1996 and 1997 Vuelta a España, taking second place in the 1995 and the 1999 Tour de France. He was world time-trial champion in Lugano in 1996.

Alex Zülle
Alex ZUELLE.jpg
Zülle at the 1993 Tour de France
Personal information
Full nameAlex Zülle
NicknamePerro Loco "Rompetechos"
Born (1968-07-05) 5 July 1968 (age 51)
Wil, Switzerland
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight72 kg (159 lb; 11 st 5 lb)
Team information
DisciplineRoad
RoleRider
Rider typeAll-rounder
Amateur team(s)
1988-1991Helvetia, Isotonic, Churrasco, Mavick
Professional team(s)
1991–1997ONCE
1998Festina
1999–2000Banesto
2001–2002Team Coast
2003–2004Phonak
Major wins
Grand Tours
Tour de France
2 individual stages
Giro d'Italia
3 individual stages
Vuelta a España
General classification (1996, 1997)
9 individual stages

Stage races

Tour de Suisse (2002)
Tour of the Basque Country (1995, 1997)
Paris–Nice (1993)
Volta a Catalunya (1996)

One-day races and Classics

World Time Trial Championships (1996)

BiographyEdit

Early careerEdit

 
Zülle (centre) during the amateur race at the 1990 UCI Road World Championships

Zülle was born and brought up in Wil in the canton of St. Gallen, son of a Swiss father, Walter Zülle and Wilhelmine, from Brabant, Netherlands. As a child he wanted to be a skier but at 18 he was injured in an accident. He began cycling in the Netherlands for rehabilitation before giving up because it was too windy.[1]

His father, having bought cycling equipment, persuaded him to give cycling another go when they returned to Switzerland. After several years as a successful amateur, Zülle turned professional in 1991. He approached the former sporting director of the Swiss team, Helvetia, Paul Köchli, but Köchli signed Laurent Dufaux instead.[1]

Zülle then approached Manolo Saiz, but was rebuffed because, among reasons, he did not contract riders who wore earrings. Eventually, Saiz softened and Zülle rode for ONCE as a stagaire or apprentice in the Volta a Catalunya. He attacked frequently and finished third. Saiz relented and Zülle signed his first professional contract in September 1991.[2] He remained with ONCE until 1997.[3] Most of its riders were Spanish. Zülle spoke only Swiss-German when he joined but at the end of the Vuelta a España he answered journalists in Spanish.[4]

Festina affairEdit

In 1998, Zülle joined Festina. The team was banned from the 1998 Tour de France amid doping allegations which later became known as the Festina affair. Five Festina riders including Zülle admitted taking EPO.[5] Zülle said he took it to satisfy his sponsors. He also said he was deprived of his spectacles during the police interview.[6] On 28 November 1998, Zülle's haematocrit was found to be 52.3%, 2.3% over the limit.

1999–2004Edit

His career coincided with that of Miguel Indurain, five-time Tour de France winner. Zülle was second in the Tour in 1999. He also won the Vuelta a España and Tour de Suisse, and stages in the Giro d'Italia.

Zülle retired in 2004, and held a party for his fans in Wil in October that year.[7]

Career achievementsEdit

Major resultsEdit

1992
1st   Overall Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme
1st   Overall Vuelta a Asturias
1st   Overall Vuelta a Burgos
1st Escalada a Montjuïc
1993
1st Chur-Arosa
1st Josef Voegeli Memorial
Paris–Nice
1st Stage 1 & 8
2nd Overall Vuelta a España
1st Stage 1, 6 & 21
3rd Overall Tour of the Basque Country
1994
4th Overall Vuelta a España
1995
1st   Overall Tour of the Basque Country
1st Stage 3 & Stage 5b
1st   Overall Vuelta a Valencia
1st Stage 2b
1st Challenge Mallorca
1st Stage 16 Vuelta a España
2nd Overall Tour de Suisse
1st   Points classification
1st Stage 1 & 6
2nd Overall Tour de France
1st Stage 9
2nd Overall Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme
1st Stage 5b
2nd Overall Euskal Bizikleta
1st Stage 4b
3rd Overall Paris–Nice
1996
1st   Time trial, UCI Road World Championships
1st   Overall Vuelta a España
1st Stage 15
1st   Overall Volta a Catalunya
1st Prologue, Stages 3 & 6
1st   Overall Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme
1st Stage 3 & 5b
1st GP Miguel Indurain
1st Prologue Tour de France
2nd Overall Euskal Bizikleta
1st Stage 4b
1997
1st   Overall Vuelta a España
1st Stage 21
1st   Overall Tour of the Basque Country
1st Stage 5b
2nd Overall Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme
2nd Milano–Torino
3rd La Flèche Wallonne
1998
Giro d'Italia
1st Prologue, Stages 6 & 15
1st Stage 21 Vuelta a España
2nd Overall Tour de Romandie
1st Stage 4b
3rd Overall Tour of the Basque Country
3rd Overall Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme
1999
1st Stage 13 Vuelta a España
2nd Overall Tour de France
2000
1st   Overall Volta ao Algarve
1st Stage 1 Vuelta a España
2001
1st Stage 4 Paris–Nice
2002
1st   Overall Tour de Suisse
1st Stage 1
2nd Overall Tour de Romandie
1st   Points classification
1st Stage 4 & 5

Grand Tour general classification results timelineEdit

Grand Tour 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
  Vuelta a España DNF 2 4 20 1 1 8 37 49 109 DNF
  Giro d'Italia 14 DNF
  Tour de France DNF 41 8 2 26 DNF DNF 2 DNF
Legend
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "portrait : how it all began". alex-zuelle.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-20.
  2. ^ "Interview with Alex Zulle". cyclingnews.com. 1998-01-01.
  3. ^ "portrait : startschwierigkeiten" (in German). alex-zuelle.com. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12.
  4. ^ "portrait : ein schweizer in spanien" (in German). alex-zuelle.com. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12.
  5. ^ "Tour de France". Sports Betting. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06.
  6. ^ "Drugs scandal update". Cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 2008-05-25.
  7. ^ "Zulle parties out". cyclingnews.com. 2004-10-21.

External linksEdit