Rick Zabel is more than satisfied with his first year in the U-23 ranks, especially since he won the U-23 German national road title. He will remain with the Rabobank Continental team in the coming year, despite the loss of the team's sponsor.
Zabel, who turns 19 next month, is the son of retired professional Erik Zabel, and showed at the German U-23 championships in September that he has inherited his father's legendary finishing speed, winning in a three-man sprint. “Going into the race as an outsider was an advantage for me,” he told Radsport-News.com. “Beforehand I had certainly not reckoned with the win.”
Overall he was pleased with his year. “At Rabobank I have made another step forward. We ride pro races, where I have learned a lot. The development is going up and I hope that at some point I can become a pro.”
The national title was Zabel's only win, but he also placed second in the Ronde von Limburg, and was 20th in the U-23 Tour of Flanders.
“Rabobank is one of the best teams in the U-23 area. Everyone who can ride there can consider themselves lucky. In winter we have four training camps, including one very long one.”
Zabel has a contract with the team through 2013, and the team will continue despite Rabobank's withdrawal as sponsor. And after that? “I haven't looked that far into the future. I live in the here and now and only look at the upcoming things and take it all step for step.”