Erik Zabel has announced that he will retire at the end of this season, as expected. "I had a lot of fun riding this year and could keep up with my international rivals. I don't know if I could do that for another season and think that this is the right moment to stop," he said in a press release.
The 38-year-old will ride the Worlds road race Sunday. His last race for Milram will be the Sparkasse Münsterland Giro on October 3.
"With Erik Zabel's retirement, not only Milram but also the whole sporting world is losing an important athlete. We thank him for the great work of the last three years," said Gerry van Gerwen, Milram's general manager.
Zabel's future plans were not announced, but van Gerwen indicated that he would not stay with the team, saying "we wish Erik an equally exciting and successful career after this career, and hope that he stays involved with cycling, in whatever way."
Zabel turned pro in 1993 with Team Telekom, leaving the team only in 2006 to join the newly-formed Team Milram. He has over 200 career wins, making him the most successful pro German rider ever. Among his honours are 12 Tour de France stage wins in 14 starts and six green jerseys for the best sprinter. He won eight stages in the Vuelta a España and won the points jersey three times. This year he rode the Giro d'Italia for the first time and, also for the first time, rode all three Grand Tours in one year.
He also won Milano-Sanremo four times and Paris-Tours three times. Other wins include Amstel Gold Race, Rund um den Henninger Turm, Rund um Köln and the HEW Cyclassics.(SW)