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Erik Zabel

Erik Zabel (born July 7, 1970, Berlin) is a German professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTour Team Milram. He is considered to be one of the best sprinters of the late 1990s. He won the sprinter's green jersey in the Tour de France a record six consecutive years between 1996 and 2001, won the sprinter classification in the Vuelta a España in 2003 and 2004, and has won the Classic Milan-San Remo four times.

Zabel grew up in East Berlin. After good results as an amateur cyclist, he became a professional in 1992 for a small German team. In 1993 he changed teams to Team Telekom (the later T-Mobile Team). There he became a good sprinter. His biggest strength was his all-round ability: whereas specialist sprinters such as Mario Cipollini would leave the big stage races before the mountain stages, Erik Zabel could climb reasonably well. This meant that, apart from being able to take the yellow jersey (maillot jaune) in the Tour de France thanks to the time bonuses, he could pick up further victories in latter stages, when other sprinters had retired, and take the green jersey (maillot vert) to Paris. One of his most memorable victories in securing the green jersey was in the 2001 Tour de France when his competition with Australian Stuart O'Grady continued all the way to the final stage in Paris, where Zabel's better placing finally took the green jersey off O'Grady's shoulders. However, in recent seasons he has been beaten by Australian Robbie McEwen in 2002 and 2004, and compatriot Baden Cooke in 2003.

In 2004, Zabel began the season losing what would have been his fifth Milan-San Remo to Óscar Freire because he lifted his arms to celebrate too soon. Then, after 9 victories throughout the season (and 18 second places!) Zabel ended it just as he had begun it: second behind Freire, this time in the World Cycling Championship in Verona.

Zabel is well-known for his discipline in training, and admits that he really enjoys riding a bicycle and training. He is one of the few current road cyclists who race all year long, including track cycling events in the winter. For this character, he is often compared to the other star of his team, Jan Ullrich. Walter Godefroot, manager of T-Mobile Team, commented that if only Ullrich had the discipline of Zabel, his team would have won many editions of the Tour de France. In return, Zabel commented that his approach to training is not universally applicable to all cyclists, and that he appreciates the presence of a star of Ullrich's popularity on the team to take the pressure off of him. Zabel also said in a recent interview that he has always admired Godefroot's race results, and that he considers Godefroot as a father figure.

He was not selected for the 2005 Tour de France, possibly because T-mobile team wanted to go fully for Jan Ullrich's chances in the General Classification.

Since 2006 he is riding for Team Milram.

Major victories

  • 1994

    • Paris-Tours

  • 1995

    • Tour de France: 2 stages

  • 1996

    • Tour de France: 2 stages, green jersey

  • 1997

    • Milan-San Remo

    • Tour de France: 3 stages, green jersey

    • Grote Scheldeprijs

  • 1998

    • Milan-San Remo

    • National championship road race

    • Tour de France: green jersey

  • 1999

    • Rund um den Henninger Turm

    • Tour de France: green jersey

  • 2000

    • Milan-San Remo

    • Amstel Gold Race

    • Tour de France: 1 stage, green jersey

  • 2001

    • Milan-San Remo

    • Tour de France: 3 stages, green jersey

    • Vuelta a España: 3 stages

    • Number 1 in the UCI ranking

  • 2002

    • Tour de France: 1 stage

    • Rund um den Henninger Turm

    • Number 1 in the UCI ranking

  • 2003

    • National championship road race

    • Vuelta a España: 2 stages, points

  • 2004

    • Vuelta a España: points ranking

    • World Cycling Championship Silver Medal

  • 2005

    • Rund um den Henninger Turm

    • Paris-Tours

  • totalling 193 victories as a professional, more than any other active rider

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