Zabel Wins At Tour of Austria7. July 2015, Gratwein-Straßengel (AUT) — Road Team
One day after crashing in the final corner, BMC Racing Team's Rick Zabel earned his first victory as a professional by winning a reduced bunch sprint finish Tuesday at the Tour of Austria.
Zabel out-sprinted Ángel Vicioso (Team Katusha) and Jan Tratnik (Amplatz-BMC) at the end of the 181.8-kilometer race after a small breakaway group that included teammate Dylan Teuns was caught with two kilometers to go.
"I was one of the last guys to make it over the steep climb on the circuit," Zabel said. "Fortunately, it was still about 10 kilometers from the top to the finish, so I was able to recover a bit.
"After the breakaway was caught, there was a bit of chaos because nobody was strong enough to control it any more," he said. "So I just stayed in the first few positions all the time. Always going from wheel to wheel just to stay in the front."
Just like on Monday, Zabel was the second rider through the final turn, with 600 meters left.
"With 400 meters to go, I was already in front, but I waited a bit and a rider from the Amplatz-BMC team passed me," Zabel said. "So I went on his wheel and he actually did a good lead out for me. In the final meters, Vicioso came close to me, but luckily I was strong enough to hold on for the win."
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Valerio Piva said it was nice to see Zabel bounce back from Monday's crash that happened on a tricky circuit that included half-a-dozen turns in the final kilometer. Zabel's victory also came on the 45th birthday of his father, Erik, the six-time winner of the points classification at the Tour de France.
"Rick did a fantastic job to take the win," Piva said. "It is a nice present for his dad and it is nice for him and for all of us."
BMC Racing Team's Brent Bookwalter also finished in the top 10, in seventh, and joins Zabel and teammate Ben Hermans in the top 10 overall. Zabel is third, two seconds off the lead, Hermans is ninth and Bookwalter is 10th. Both are 12 seconds back of Vicioso, who is the new race leader.
"My personal plan coming here was to take it day-by-day and look for opportunities and I will continue to do that," Bookwalter said. "I think we have a few guys here who can ride a good overall. I wouldn't say we have the best climber in the race, but we have some strong guys on good form who I think will be up there."
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