By Andrew Hood
Zabel out for season
Erik Zabel won’t be lining up to defend his title in Sunday’s Paris-Tours World Cup stop. The German ace broke his heel after falling off a ladder in his home in Unna, Germany.
“That puts an end to my season. It is annoying. I was in good form and well-prepared for the Paris-Tours World Cup race,” said the 34-year-old Zabel.
T-Mobile team doctors said no surgery is necessary, but it means an early end to Zabel’s season.
“Basically the injury is a bone splinter on his heel,” explained team physician Andreas Schmid from the University Clinic in Freiberg. “The injury will heal in time and it will not affect Erik’s pre-season training plans.”
The news comes just off Zabel’s second-place ride in Verona and his rise back atop cycling’s world rankings.
In other Zabel news, according to a poll taken by a sports marketing firm, Zabel is now Germany’s most popular racer. According to an August 2004 study, researchers sampled 1,000 people and found that 85 percent chose him as their favorite.
Boonen, Zanini also done
Another big name missing Paris-Tours will be Belgian star Tom Boonen. According to a statement from Quick Step, Boonen is suffering with a viral gastroenteritis, requiring rest through the end of the week.
“I was forced to pull-out of the World Championships because of this virus that I’m still suffering with it,” said Boonen, who’s notched 20 victories this season. “This morning I did some training approximately 1 ½ hours, but I feel too weak to be one of the main players in such a difficult and long race like Paris-Tours. I don’t want to ride and finish in 30th or 40th place. I wouldn’t be of any use to myself or to the team strategy in this condition. Unfortunately, the world championships will (be) the last race of my season.”
Another Quick Step rider, Stefano Zanini, is also done for the season. The Varese-based Italian is still smarting from a contusion on his right thighbone caused after a fall during a training ride in late September.
“I was riding from Olgiate Olona in the direction of Varese when a car that was coming in the opposite direction all of a sudden decided to turn left without even noticing me. I tried to avoid the impact. I fell to the ground landing heavily on my right side,” Zanini said. “The x-rays that were taken showed that I hadn’t fractured any bones thankfully. That said, the pain has got worse over the last few days. Yesterday I underwent a magnetic resonance test that evidenced bad contusion”.
Aussies get new track coach
Martin Barras on Thursday was reappointed as Australia’s head track cycling coach until the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) said. Canadian-born Barras, who was instrumental in Australia’s best-ever showing in cycling at this year’s Athens Olympics, signed a new four-year contract with the AIS, an institute spokesman said. The Australian cyclists left the Olympics with a record haul of six golds, two silver and two bronze — twice the tally of nearest rivals Russia.