Zabel regrets "Bird of Paradise"

"Cycling has lost a Bird of Paradise, and that's too bad," said T-Mobile's Erik Zabel on Mario...

"Cycling has lost a Bird of Paradise, and that's too bad," said T-Mobile's Erik Zabel on Mario Cipollini's retirement. "He did a lot of good for cycling and understood how to be an entertainer. He was an absolutely glorious showman, but his athletic achievements always had priority."

The secret of Cipo's popularity, according to the T-Mobile sprinter, was that "he was an entertainer who also brought in top sporting results. He was able to combine both aspects. That made him one of the most popular cyclists of all time. Personally, I always enjoyed riding with him, as well as against him. It was never a bad thing to lose against him. And because he was one of the best, it was something special to beat him!" Was Zabel surprised by the retirement? "No, the retirement itself didn't surprise me. The timing was very sudden. But when you think that none of his sprint preparers, his "train", his old buddies are still active, then it was the right time to stop."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

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