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Erik Zabel: Cycling's iron man

Erik Zabel (Germany)

Erik Zabel (Germany) (Image credit: Andrea Hübner)

Erik Zabel is going into his 15th year as a professional cyclist, has nearly 200 career victories, with palmares better than most teams could offer, rides from the first race of the season to the last and fills in the off-season by riding (and of course winning) six-day races. Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer tracked him down to ask if there is anything he can't do.

While he may be an iron man on the bike, as a father there is one thing Zabel can't do. The rider freely admits that when watching his son Rick, who, not surprisingly, also races, he simply can't watch the 13 year-old cross the line. "I just can't look at the finish line, I always stand in the last curve. The worst is if he crashes. Then I turn weak. I don't want him to make any mistakes, but on the other hand, I know that he has to make mistakes."

While Erik isn't forcing his son into the sport, he wouldn't stand in Rick's way either, if he did decide to pursue the same route as dad. But for now, Erik is just passing on some fatherly wisdom. "The most important tips that I can give him are: first, wear a helmet. Second: Have fun with what you do," explained Zabel. "When I go to a junior race with Rick, then I am always satisfied to recognize this is still my sport at its roots. I see myself as I used to be. Why should I stop him?"

Read the full interview.

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