David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) has claimed his first stage race victory at the Tour of Missouri, following0 nine years of professional bike racing. The Salt Lake City, Utah native was presented with his first yellow jersey on podium following the seventh and final stage in Kansas City on Sunday.
“I’ve had some very good victories and some good success but never an overall win,” Zabriskie said. “So this is a first one of those, so that’s nice. It feels very gratifying.”
Zabriskie took the overall lead following a blistering performance in the stage five time trial, held in Sedalia. He rode in with a best time of 36:30 besting runner up Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank) by 30 seconds and third placed Tom Zirbel (Bissell) by 44 seconds.
“I know that when I’m in good shape, I’m capable of those kind of rides,” said Zabriskie. “I don’t think [the time gaps] are going to blow my mind.”
Zabriskie won his fourth consecutive USPro Time Trial Championships in Greenville, South Carolina two weeks ago. Despite holding the leader’s jersey on many occasions around the world, Zabriskie said it’s simply never worked out over an entire event before now.
“I have the capabilities but it’s never really panned out for me,” Zabriskie said. “This one looks pretty good so far. A time trial win is nice and those have been the majority of my wins I’d say. But that’s something that is a physical attribute that I know that I have and I know I can do. This [an overall title] is something that’s always been out there, like ‘maybe I can do it’, but it’s never happened.”
His palmers includes second place in the 2006 UCI World Time Trial Championships, followed by a third place last year. He has won stages in all three Grand Tours. Arguably, his most notable result came when he won the opening prologue at the 2005 Tour de France, while racing for team CSC and wore the yellow jersey for five day’s before an unfortunate crash in the stage four team time trial.
Asked what he learned from his first opportunity at defending an overall title and as a team leader Zabriskie replied: “I’ve learned not to freak out. I tried to stay calm and rely on the team and they pulled through. As far as my team, those guys are going to get some big hugs from me tonight. I really, really appreciate what they did for me. The last two days is why they call it a team sport and that’s how you win races.”
In the past Zabriskie competed for the US Postal team for four years followed by the Danish CSC squad for two seasons before moving to the American-based Germin-Slipstream in 2008. Former team-mate Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) gave some insight as to how Zabriskie has evolved as a rider since they were team-mates.
“I think Dave has gotten more freedom with the team he is in now,” Voigt said. “So he can go more with the feeling and go more with the flow. And if he says to Jonathan Vaughters that he doesn’t feel good on a day, then that’s OK. But on our team it was like, ‘hey, we pay you for this and we expect this now’. Dave doesn’t like that too much so he is really happy in that team and you can see that he really is happy and that’s how he pays them back with really good performances.
“I think that as sad as it was for us to lose him, I mean he won the Tour de France prologue for us once and he was obviously a really good and valuable member of our team,” Voigt continued. “As sad as it was for us to lose him is as good as it was for him to go. To go to a team where most are Americans, totally the same culture, the same language and that is probably more relaxing for him so for him it was a good move.”
Zabriskie considers his 2009 season with Garmin-Slipstream to be a success. He kicked off the season with a second place overall in the Tour of California and went on to take a podium place in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and support his team at the Giro d’ Italia and the Tour de France.
Filled with confidence after his first overall victory, Zabriskie thinks there could be more to follow. “Yeah, I don’t see why not. I hope so,” he said.