Zabel extends Columbia advisor role for two more years

Former winner tips Greipel for Vattenfall podium

Erik Zabel has extended his contract as an advisor to Columbia-HTC for two years. Zabel joined the American team this year to provide technical advice to the team's sprinters, Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel.

“Working with the young sprinters at Columbia is so much fun, that I have already extended my contract,” he said Tuesday at a press conference in Hamburg, Germany, dealing with Sunday's Vattenfall Cyclassics ProTour race. His contract was due to expire the end of this year.

The 39-year-old admitted that the work with Cavendish and Greipel had been more time-consuming than he had expected. He is not involved in their daily training, but works with them via DVD and video training. Zabel also examines the courses the team will race on and provides a report on details important to the sprint.

Zabel's association with both Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel has already born fruit. Cavendish this year won Milan-San Remo, three stages in the Giro d'Italia and six stages at the Tour de France, with 20 wins so far this season. He has given Zabel credit for helping him at Milan-San Remo, saying “Without his help I would not have won”.

Zabel was the last German to win the Vattenfall Cyclassics, in 2001. He sees Greipel as the logical favorite to win this year. “He is the fastest man in the start list, and it would be good for him to get on the podium.” Greipel has 15 wins this season, second only to Cavendish.

Zabel's own racing career ended in 2008 after three years at Team Milram, prior to that he had ridden 13 seasons with the now defunct Telekom/T-Mobile formation.

During his lengthy career he won six consecutive green jerseys at the Tour de France, and 12 stages, as well as three consecutive points jerseys and eight stages at the Vuelta a España. He also won Milan-San Remo four times, part of over 200 career wins.

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