June 28, 2005
T-Mobile soap opera revs up
It's perhaps understandable that T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, six time winner of the Tour de France sprinter's jersey, would be unhappy about being left off the team's Tour squad this year. He's speaking out about the decision and team leader Jan Ullrich.
A little more surprising is that Andreas Klöden, who last year stormed to the German national championship and 2nd overall at the Tour, is also sniping at Ullrich.
Turns out Klöden, in worse shape than last year at this time, wanted to skip his German title defense, and resented the team's decision to rest Ullrich, but not Klödi:
"I asked to be released too. I would have loved to stay away from this championship," Klödie moaned. "Other people were allowed to".
Klöden rode the 204 km race in Mannheim with little conviction, coming home in 57th place, 38 seconds off the pace.
Adding insult to injury for Zabel, the team will be running him in the Tour of Austria starting July 4th, which means he won't be able to cover the race for German TV during the Tour's first week.
"I wouldn't have prevented him from winning," vouched six-time green jersey winner Zabel. "When I become second or third it is a loss, yet other people are celebrated for that." Ouch!
Zabel's room-mate Rolf Aldag - also not included in T-Mobile's final nine - has joined the fray, claiming: "I would have left it up to a champion like Erik to decide whether he wanted to start or not."
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