Zabel Wins Paris-Tours
Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) has won his last race for T-Mobile.
Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) was won his last race for T-Mobile. Zabel looked like the great rider of old as he took a field sprint to win Paris-Tours in 5:37:23. Daniele Bennati (Lampre) finished second in the 253.5-km race, and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) took third.
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From the start, the pace was fast. After a number of abortive sallies, Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Illes Balears), and Stephane Berges (Agritubel) escaped at 82 km. The trio ran up an 8:20 lead by 105 km, at which distance Credit Agricole, Davitamon, T-Mobile, and Illes Balears began to chase to support Thor Hushovd, Robbie McEwen, Zabel, and Alejandro Valverde, respectively.
At 211 km, the bunch caught the break, but Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) attacked at 228 km and Philippe Gilbert (La Francaise des Jeux) joined him. At one point, the two escapees led by 1:00, and they had a 0:25 advantage on the rue de Grammont. Discovery Channel directeur sportif Dirk Demol, however, instructed Devolder not to cooperate with Gilbert after the one-km banner because Demol felt that noncooperation was Devolder?s only chance of winning a sprint. The 50-strong lead group overhauled the pair 300 m from the finish. Zabel wound up elated, Devolder wound up disappointed because he felt that he and Gilbert could have stayed away if he had been allowed to work, and Gilbert wound up angry.
Zabel?s victory is his third in this race. He joins Gustaf Daneels, Paul Maye, and Guido Reybroeck as three-time winners of Paris-Tours. Zabel wanted to give T-Mobile, with which he has spent 13 seasons (if one includes the German squad?s Telekom incarnation), a farewell present, and he has done so. After a difficult season, the culmination of which had been Zabel?s nonselection for the Tour de France, Zabel leaves T-Mobile on a high note.
With one race remaining, the Giro di Lombardia, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), who abandoned with knee pain, has sewn up victory in the Pro Tour with 229 points. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is second with 171 points, and Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) is third with 140. Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com to find out who grabs the season?s final Pro Tour event!