Ole Ritter

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Ole Ritter
Personal information
Full name Ole Jørgen Phister Ritter[1]
Born (1941-08-29) 29 August 1941 (age 73)
Slagelse, Denmark
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road & Track
Role Rider
Rider type Time trial
Professional team(s)
1967-1970 Germanvox
1971-1972 Dreher
1973 Bianchi
1974-1975 Filotex
1976-1977 Sanson
Infobox last updated on
March 26, 2008

Ole Ritter (born August 29, 1941) is a former Danish racing cyclist, mainly known for breaking the hour record in 1968.[2]

Amateur years[edit]

As an amateur he rode for ABC Denmark. His breakthrough came in 1962 where he won 2 silver medals at the world championship in Italy, Individual & 100 km team time trial. Ritter took part in the 1964 Summer Olympics. He rode the individual road race and finished in 74th place, and was part of the Danish team in the team time trial that finished seventh.[1] He became Danish champion twice, and in 1965 went to Italy to break the world record on the 100 km.[2]

Professional years[edit]

In 1967 he became professional in Italy with the Germanvox-Wega team and his career took off. He won the individual time trial in the Giro d'Italia in front of Rudi Altig, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil. This time trial was just short of one hour, and Anquetil remarked that Ritter would have broken the hour record.[2]

In 1968 he went to Mexico City before the Olympic Games, to accompany the Italian amateur cyclists and help them get used to the altitude.[2] Since time on the track was scarce, the Italian team did not want to give Ritter much track time. On the day before the Olympics started, Ritter was allowed to ride in the morning, and he beat the hour record.[2] He was the first rider to take the record at altitude since Willie Hamilton in 1898. He covered 48.653 km and it took four years and Eddy Merckx to beat it (49.431 km in 1972).

In 1974 at the age of 33 he went to Mexico again and beat his personal record twice in a week, with 48.739 and 48.879 km.

Grand Tours[edit]

Ole Ritter rode the Tour de France once, in 1975 (GC 47). However, he took part 9 times in Giro d'Italia, and is to this day the Danish rider with the best GC finish, 7th in 1973 + 3 stage wins.

Major achievements[edit]

  • GP Diessenhofen
  • 3rd stage Tour of Apulië
  • GP Lugano

Other accomplishments[edit]

Towards the end of his career he became Denmark's cycle hero again when Six-day racing returned to Denmark. He won 3 times: 1974 and 1975 in Herning with Dutchman Leo Duyndam and in 1977 in Forum with Belgian 6-Day star Patrick Sercu. Ole Ritter last 6-Day race was in Milan in 1978.


Stars and Watercarriers[edit]

The movie "Stars and Watercarriers" (Danish: "Stjernerne og vandbærerne") by Danish film maker Jørgen Leth from 1974 follows the fortunes of Danish cyclist Ole Ritter in the 1973 Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy). The film as a whole gives a good insight into the ins and outs of a three week stage race, explaining the roles and aims of the different riders in the race. The drama and heartbreak of the mountain stages, the intensity of the time trial ("the race of truth"), the quieter moments on the road, the signing in process of each stage are all covered.

The chapter "The trial of truth" stands out with its focus on the Danish star Ole Ritter, his technical, physical and psychological preparations and his performance in the time trials. Ritter is lauded with words such as "power, cycle and style in the simplest manifestation possible", and aesthetically, too, the section stands out: there is no background music or ordinary real sound. Instead, a sound close up of the chain as it seems to sing emphasises the utter concentration of Ritter's venture.[3]

The impossible hour[edit]

A Danish documentary (original name Den umulige time), about Ole Ritter's attempt to break the hour record. The movie, made in 1974, takes place in Mexico City.[4]

After the cycling career[edit]

Owner of Ritter Import. Organiser of fun-race Ritter Classic. Member of the Danish Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ a b "Ole Ritter Bio, Stats and Results". Sports Reference. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ole Ritter – The mysterious hour record setter". Cycling News. Future Publishing Limited. 8 February 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  3. ^ IMDB entry for "Stars and Watercarriers"
  4. ^ IMDB entry for "The impossible hour"
Preceded by
Ferdi Bracke
UCI hour record (48.653 km)
10 October 1968-25 October 1972
Succeeded by
Eddy Merckx