Zabel looking forward to riding TdF with Petacchi

By Susan Westemeyer

Erik Zabel says that he is looking forward to riding the Tour de France with Milram teammate Alessandro Petacchi. "Two leaders at the season highlight would be no surprise to me, and I wouldn't have a problem with it," he said.

It had been assumed that Petacchi would ride the Giro d'Italia and let Zabel be captain for the TdF team, but Petacchi recently said he would rather not ride the very hilly 2006 Giro. Zabel says he feels it is important to support the team and the sponsor in its first year.

"When a German company, in the year that the [football] World Cup is being held in Germany, goes against the trend and supports a cycling team, then it has earned the support of everyone involved." The Tour will not be their first joint appearance. "It is already clear, that Petacchi and I will both ride Milan-San Remo," Zabel said.

And when the two start sprinters start the same race, who will ride for whom? "Our rivals can assume that we have more than one plan in mind."

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