Zabel to ride Berkshire Cycling Classic in May

Cycling legend Erik Zabel will ride the first annual Berkshire Cycling Classic in Lenox, Massachusetts on May 6, 2012, event organiser Sparta Cycling announced on Thursday. The event is the American stop on the fifteen-event UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) for 2012 through 2014. The rides are held as Cyclosportif (or Gran Fondo) event formats.

With over 200 professional wins, Erik Zabel is considered as one of the greatest German cyclists and best sprinters in cycling history. Zabel won the points classification at the Tour de France a record six consecutive times between 1996 and 2001 and claimed 12 Tour stage wins in his career. He also earned the points jersey at the Vuelta a España three times (2002-2004) as well as winning Italy's most famed racing classic, Milan-San Remo, four times. Zabel retired from pro cycling in 2008.

"It is an honor for us to have Erik Zabel with us this year," said Sparta Cycling principal John Eustice. "Erik is not only a legendary rider but also a friendly, outgoing person who will add a special dimension to the first annual Berkshire Cycling Classic."

Erik Zabel said of his upcoming role as 'patron' of the Berkshire Cycling Classic, "This will be my first time riding in the States since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. It is a wonderful chance to meet American riders and to ride the beautiful Berkshires."

Both New York City and Lenox, Massachusetts will host "An Evening with Erik Zabel" with moderator John Eustice. His New York appearance will serve to present the 2012 Rockstar Games sponsored Skyscraper Harlem Cycling Classic, now a USA Crits and NCC event.

"My 6-day racer friends told me about the Harlem race," said Zabel. "It's got a very good reputation in Europe as an exciting and well run criterium."

Both appearances will focus on Zabel's storied career and the first annual Berkshires event.

The UWCT is a series of UCI-sanctioned Gran Fondo/Cyclosportif events that are held around the globe. The top 25 percent in each age group of the qualifiers will automatically have the right to compete in the UWCT Final and race for a UCI rainbow jersey. The Berkshire Cycling Classic will be the only UWCT event in the United States this year.

Starting and finishing in Lenox, Massachusetts on Sunday May 6, 2012, the Berkshire Cycling Classic features route selections of 62 and 81 miles (100k and 130k). Overall times for both distances will be recorded and ranked according to age groups.

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