The Week That Was...
Ian comments on the happenings in the world of cycling.
After weeks of uncertainty surrounding his future with the German T-Mobile team, Erik Zabel last week confirmed that he had made the decision to leave after 13 years of service, citing an inability to reach an agreement with his employers. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Initially, Zabel was expected to move into either a Director Sportif or a PR role, two options favoured by the team. It appears, however, following his exclusion from the recent Tour de France, Zabel opted against such a move and instead decided his future lay elsewhere.
In a statement released by the team, Zabel said, "It (the exclusion) was difficult for me, but I was eventually able to put that behind me. Both sides had their ideas, but we could not agree."
"Nothing is unusual in the professional world. I leave with many beautiful memories and as a friend. Olaf is the right man to smoothly oversee the transition within the team; in Michael Rogers and Patrik Sinkewitz, the team has signed up two young riders with enormous potential and will ensure a successful future for the T-Mobile brand."
"I regret the exit of the negotiations," said team manager and former teammate Olaf Ludwig. "Erik was also the subject of other offers, which offered a new sporting challenge."
Before confirming his move to the Spanish Liberty Seguros Wurth team, current T-Mobile rider, Alexandre Vinokourov, had been rumoured to be heading for the French Credit Agricole team. Current team leader, 34-year-old Christophe Moreau, then in negotiations over a new contract, decided to publicly speak out against such a move in l?Equipe, fearing for his role as team leader. Just weeks later, the French team have announced that Moreau will be leaving at the end of the season.
Director Sportif, Roger Legeay, denied that the break down in contract negotiations had anything to do with the comments made by Moreau. "The two files are different," he told L'Equipe. "We met with the agents of Christophe in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Moreau, 12th in this year's Tour de France, has since been confirmed as the new team leader of Vincent Lavenu?s AG2R team.
Having already stood on the top step at the World Championships on three occasions, Rabobank?s Oscar Freire?s hopes of making it a record-breaking fourth at the race in
British daily, The Guardian, last week reported that Matt Damon is being lined up to play the role of Lance Armstrong, in a film version of ? It?s not about the