The BMC team has confirmed it has signed Rick Zabel for the 2014 season. The 19 year-old German and the son of Erik Zabel, confirmed his pedigree by winning the Under 23 Tour of Flanders. Zabel is riding for the Rabobank Development team this year but will soon rub shoulders with the big names on the BMC roster.
The team did not reveal details of Zabel's contract but it is likely to last for several seasons. There was no announcement if Erik Zabel will also work for the BMC team. He currently works as a directeur sportif and sprint coach for the Katusha team.
"For me this is really a dream," Zabel said in a statement issued by the team. "I want to get better year to year and improve my qualities. I don't turn 20 until December so I am still very young. I want to learn, do my work as well as possible and help the team however I can."
"I think they are one of the most professional teams in the WorldTour and the riders speak for themselves – guys like Cadel Evans, Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd and Tejay van Garderen – a lot of big stars. To have those guys as teammates for a young guy like me is really cool because I can learn a lot from them."
The BMC team has a proven history of signing and developing young riders. Zabel follows on from Taylor Phinney and Tejay van Garderen, who both signed with BMC at a young age.
"We are always on the lookout for future talents like Rick," team manager Jim Ochowicz said.
"He and his family have a great passion for the sport and it will be a pleasure to work with him during these early years of his career."
BMC Performance Manager Allan Peiper raced against Erik Zabel and pointed out the similarities between father and son.
"Rick has a long list of results in the last few years to back up his pedigree," Peiper said. "He has certainly learned a lot from his father, and, in a lot of ways, they are a little bit the same rider. Rick is a sprinter who can hold his ground on any terrain."