Jens Heppner made his mark as a professional cyclist in his time with Team Telekom, where he rode shoulder-to-shoulder with Tour winner Jan Ullrich. Heppner's own successes include winning the Tour of Germany in 1999, a top-10 finish in the Tour de France in 1992 and leading the overall Giro d`Italia for ten days in 2002.
At the 3RIDES Festival, Heppner, who has lived in Kelmis, Belgium, for almost 20 years, will offer guided rides in Belgium and Holland.
Warum ist das Dreiländereck so attraktiv für Radfahrer?Why is the border triangle so attractive for cyclists?
The border triangle is attractive for cyclists because you have the Eifel and the Ardennes on your doorstep and you can also ride to Holland in the lowlands. The beauty of the area is, among other things, the many different routes, so it never gets boring and monotonous here. The weather could be a bit better sometimes, though.
Did you already appreciate the spring classics in the region when you were a pro?
As a pro I really enjoyed the courses here and also the races that took place here in the region. For example, I once made it to the podium at the Amstel, which was also one of my favourite races. The area doesn't have any high mountains, but you shouldn't underestimate the distances. After all, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Amstel Gold Race are among the most demanding one-day races in the professional circuit.
What role do you play at the festival?
First of all, I think it's a great enrichment for the region that Björn Müller wants to organise and establish this festival here. Along with other former cycling stars, I will offer guided rides in Belgium and Holland and show the participants some of the key sections of the Amstel Gold Race so that the guests can also feel the gravity of the race in front of the TV. I've lived in Kelmis since 1992, I've spent my whole professional career here, so I'm proud to be able to kick off the Gran Fondo at the festival here in Kelmis.
In the past years you have suffered from cardiac arrhythmia and lung problems. How are you today?
The last few years were not so good for me health-wise. Due to an incorrect operation in the Leipzig Heart Clinic, I had to undergo several operations in the last few years. The last one was last year. If it stays like this, I can be satisfied, but up to now it has always been like a time bomb, and after two or three years my condition deteriorated very quickly and the doctors had to get involved again. The problem with pulmonary vein surgery is that there are hardly any doctors or clinics that perform it. Dr. Awad at the Marienhospital in Aachen was able to help me last year. He performed the operation for the first time - and was successful!