The Deutschland Tour may have to do without the biggest names in German cycling, as Erik Zabel of Team Milram has said that he will skip the Tour in favor of the Vuelta a Espana. Double Tour de France stage winner Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner has already announced his intention to ride in Spain, while Astana's Andreas Klöden has not yet decided which race he will participate in.
Milram team manager Gerry van Gerwen confirmed to media outlet dpa that Zabel would be headed to Spain. "It is in his contract that he may ride in the Vuelta." It would be the first time that the 38-year old will have ridden all three Grand Tours in one season. In his 16-year career, Zabel has won 12 stages in the Tour de France and taken the sprinter's jersey six times, and in the Vuelta he has eight stage wins and three points jerseys.
The race organizers were not happy with the news. "Erik Zabel is both athletically and personally an enrichment for the D-Tour," said Reinald Achilles of the Tour organizer Upsolut. "Therefore we are sorry that he won't start with us." He added that Klöden's participation was still "unclear".
Two big German riders will be there, however. Linus Gerdemann of Team Columbia and defending champion Jens Voigt of CSC have said that they will ride their homeland race.