Erik Zabel has ended his professional cycling career after 17 seasons with a win at the Six Day race in Berlin, the town he was born in. Zabel and partner Robert Bartko won the event 14 points ahead of Swiss riders Bruno Risi and Franco Marvulli. Zabel has ended his career on the road already in October, at Paris-Tours.
The final night in Berlin offered exciting races, with four teams equal on laps and only separated by 30 points. The showdown came in the final Madison and Risi/Marvulli tried their best to win against the Germans. But Zabel and Bartko were up for the challenge and Zabel won the final sprint of the night against Risi.
Despite hailing from Berlin, it was Zabel's first start at the Six Day race in Germany's capital. His road commitments prevented him from racing at home in the past.
Zabel has over 200 career victories, including 12 stage wins at the Tour de France. He won the Tour's green sprinter's jersey six times between 1996 and 2001. Zabel showed his versatility by taking the World Cup in 2000. He won the spring and fall Classics Milano-Sanremo (four times) and Paris-Tours (three times). Twice he was German champion (1998 and 2003).
Zabel was known to race from the beginning of the season until the end, but even in the winter he would not stop competing. He routinely raced in the Six Day races and won a dozen of them. Most of his track wins (six) came in Dortmund, which is very close to where he lives now.
Zabel will stay close to cycling, as he is now an advisor for Columbia-High Road's sprinting talents.