Tour of California: Zabel leads himself out to second place

Rick Zabel was second on stage 3

Rick Zabel was second on stage 3 (Image credit: Tim de Waele/

Katusha-Alpecin's Rick Zabel, one of Alexander Kristoff's trusted leadout men, sprinted in for second place in stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California in Morro Bay on Tuesday.

"For me personally, it's really nice to get second on a stage," Zabel said. "But for sure we want to win the stage and we try again."

Zabel recently sprinted for second after leading out Kristoff for a win at the Eschborn-Frankfurt in early May. However, Zabel did not think his results were a sign of changing fortunes amongst the team.

"I have to say I think Alex just didn't have the legs today and this happens," Zabel said. "I mean 10 days ago in Frankfurt I did a leadout for him and he won. He came around and I finished second there. But he's a really good guy and I think today was just not his best day. This can happen. We have more stages to come."

Katusha-Alpecin made their way to the front in the final kilometres of the race and placed Zabel and Kristoff safely at the front with one kilometre to go. The final sprint to the finish was a technical downtown affair, with shifting winds and a long climb to finish line. Zabel and Kristoff had a clear shot to the line heading into the final turn.

"We went into the last corner, I think I was the third or fourth guy with Alex on my wheel," Zabel said. "I just hit the front with 450 meters to go when it kicked up and I just tried to do a good lead out. For a real long time nobody came around.

"Then it just kept going, and with 150 meters to go I was still in front and thought for like one second, 'OK, maybe I have a really good day and can win!' And then Peter came around me."

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the stage, while Zabel finished second followed by Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) in third. Kristoff was right behind in fourth place.

Zabel's father, legendary sprinter Erik Zabel, was at Tuesday's stage to see his son make a podium appearance. Zabel pointed to Wednesday's and Saturday's stages as additional opportunities.

"I think we are just happy to be here and trying every day to do our best," Zabel said. "We will try to win tomorrow or stage 7." 

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