Milram team captain Erik Zabel was given a special honor before the start of stage 17 of the Vuelta a España. The director of the race, Abraham Olano, recognized the German for his participation in all three Grand Tours this year. In addition to Zabel, Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre) was also awarded.
"It is a great honor to receive an award for my athletic performance and professional attitude," said Zabel.
Unfortunately for Zabel, the rest of his day did not go so well. A rear flat tire just seven kilometres before the finish cost him chances for a stage victory in the final dash to the line. After a bike change and with the help of teammate Fabio Sabatini, he regained the peloton with just two kilometres remaining. Without enough time to move up, he finished in the peloton - 81st for the day.
It was Zabel's second day of poor racing luck. In Tuesday's stage 16, Zabel took to the wrong exit from a traffic circle and found himself behind the barriers.