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Zabel winning and fighting

Erik Zabel (Team Milram)

Erik Zabel (Team Milram) (Image credit: Hans Will)

It has been a rough time for Erik Zabel of Team Milram. It started with Jef d'Hont's book about doping at Team Telekom in the mid-1990s and continued through his tearful confession at the T-Mobile press conference the end of last month. Only one week later, he won stage two and stage three in the Bayern Rundfahrt -- his first wins of the season, but even those wins didn't have the significance they once did.

"I can't even raise my arms in victory," he told the "I don't feel the instinct to celebrate." He is having trouble gauging things at the moment. "I have a big problem. I absolutely can't evaluate what is going on in me and around me."

He is thankful, though, for the fan support he is receiving. "The people who are applauding me are probably like you and I - people who have made mistakes in their lifes and understand what I'm going through."

His return to racing wasn't easy, even if the choice of the race itself helped. "I wouldn't necessarily have ridden any XYZ race on the calendar, and, instead, probably opted to train at home for one or two weeks." However, he has a long and successful history with the Bayern Rundfahrt, and race director Ewald Strohmeier specifically invited Zabel after his confession.

Now the sprinter is looking to the remainder of the season; Tour de Suisse, national championship, Tour de France and Deutschland Tour. And does he think he has a chance to be nominated to the German World's team? "That's a long way off. A lot can happen until then."

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