Zabel opens season in Portugal

They're off

They're off (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Erik Zabel will open his 2008 road season by leading Team Milram in the Tour ao Algarve, a five-day race in Portugal starting Wednesday. 2008 marks the 16th season as a professional for the 37 year old, who much like in previous years has used some six day track racing as final preparation before heading out on the road.

"I am looking forward to my first race kilometres of the season," Zabel said. "The Algarve tour is a good test for me. As compared to last year, the stages are harder. Mountains, flat stages, and a 35 km long time trial - what more can you ask?"

Milram is sending an all-German team, consisting of Erik Zabel, Artur Gajek, Björn Schröder, Christian Kux, Enrico Poitschke, Markus Eichler, Martin Müller, and Ralf Grabsch. Last year's overall winner, Alessandro Petacchi, will not defend his title as he is presently at the Vuelta a Andalucía in Spain.

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