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Cyclingnews 2006 Reader Poll Results
Legend of Cycling - no more 'Mr. Second Place'
This year Erik Zabel is the clean winner of Cyclingnews' "legend of cycling" award. Always in the top-ten of our poll, the consistent German finally took top spot of an award that is always given to classy riders (Laurent Jalabert in the first two years and Lance Armstrong in the next three).
Just like in the past editions, this award was given to a rider who was always in the mix during the year, and the 36-year old's second place in the world championships really pulled at the heart-strings. Zabel, who had more than his share of second place finishes did eventually come through with two stage wins in the Vuelta a España and the points competition in his home tour (although he fell one short of a similar win in the Tour de France).
It is perhaps his consistency and his year-long riding style that earns Zabel gratitude from the tifosi. Zabel clocks-in in January and does not stop until the end of the year in Six Day competitions. The number of kilometres covered in training gives him the endurance to be up front in the long classics, like Paris-Tours or Milano-Sanremo and proves his love for the sport.
"Cycling is my second family," said the German, who plans on retiring at the end of 2008, in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It is not work but passion, fun, love. I consider myself very fortunate."
Zabel was pushed to the line by recently-retired Viatcheslav Ekimov. After 17 years of racing at the professional level, the Russian signed-off in August 2006; closing out a career that included an astonishing 15 appearances in the Tour de France.
Both of these hard working men from the east easily topped Italian Paolo Bettini. He may have beat Zabel in the World Championships but he could not win the legend-status from our readers.
Votes %ge 1 Erik Zabel 3864 34.3 2 Viatcheslav Ekimov 3436 30.5 3 Paolo Bettini 1084 9.6 4 Jens Voigt 860 7.6 5 Jan Ullrich 453 4.0 6 Alison Sydor 445 4.0 7 Tom Boonen 428 3.8 8 Sven Nys 386 3.4 9 Isaac Gálvez 158 1.4 10 Bart Brentjens 100 0.9 11 Richard Groenendaal 46 0.4 Total: 11260