By Susan Westemeyer
Erik Zabel is fed up with the way things have developed since the Operación Puerto investigation began in May, including Discovery Channel's signing of Ivan Basso. "In view of the development of this affair perhaps heads should roll within the UCI or WADA, he told Eurosport.
On the personal side, though, Zabel is happy with his first year with the new Milram team. "We can be quite content, even if everything did not run naturally as desired and we had to bear, for instance, the long loss of Alessandro Petacchi - nevertheless we achieved much. For me back-to-back successes in the autumn were very important," he said.
Looking to the immediate future, he noted that "In December I will sit down with the team management and then we will decide together on the plans" for the coming year. But even "Iron-Man" Zabel, who is currently riding the Six Days of Munich, needs a break now and then: "There's a light at the end of the tunnel. After Munich we will go on vacation!"
But looking to the more distant future, Zabel doesn't entirely rule out a return to his former T-Mobile team, but neither does he embrace the idea. His two former colleagues and close friends, Jan Schaffrath and Rolf Aldag, now work for the team in management positions. Doesn't Zabel feel a pull to go back to T-Mobile and his friends? "First we have to wait and see how things develop at T-Mobile. The colour stays the same, but otherwise the team in the coming year doesn't have a lot in common with the team from 2006. And while my plans for the short term may be fairly clear, the long-term plans are still pretty open as to what might come when I stop riding."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto