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Zabel looks to the future

T-Mobile's Erik Zabel is using his unaccustomed free time this summer to think about his future. He acknowledged that the team had offered him a two-year contract, with continued employment after his active career. "I have a good offer from Olaf Ludwig," he said in a dpa interview. "I hope we can find a solution that will satisfy both sides."

He admitted that it was hard at first to accept the team's decision not to take him to the Tour this year. "I wanted to be part of the Tour team for Jan," he said. "But I could fully understand Walter Godefroot's argument when he said: If you're a water carrier, then you're not a sprinter any more."

After the German championships, third-place finisher Zabel said he would like to take 18 year-old winner Gerald Ciolek under his wing. "Maybe there's a chance for him to ride where I ride. I could help him."

The temperamental sprinter will follow the Tour on television, but only to a certain extent. "When it comes down to the last five kilometres in the sprint stages and my pulse is at 160 - then I'll probably turn the TV off." He will be guest commentator on the German TV broadcaster ARD, but "probably just the last weekend. It would be very difficult for me emotionally to comment on my sprinter colleagues in the first week."

And who's going to win that race in France? "I don't want to make a prediction."

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

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