Quick spins: Erik Zabel horses around in Belgium

Zabel "de-neighed" victory

World cup leader Erik Zabel (Telekom) crashes with the wrong kind of competitor at Ghent-Wevelgem, April 5.

He was riding comfortably about 30K from the finish when a black horse ran out from a field and knocked him off his bike.

A TV helicopter probably startled the horse, and it broke through an enclosure and galloped down the road with the riders.

"This is a real hors-category race," said the good-natured Zabel, referring to the cycling term meaning beyond difficult.

I didn't see the animal coming. I just looked at my gear, because we were chasing the first group. When I looked I saw the head of a horse. I fell but was not seriously wounded, and I'm very glad about that ... There are always problems with races in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Zabel has decided not to press charges against "Tin-Tin" the pony or its owner. He was unhurt and finished 41st in the race.

Ride for the Roses, April 9-11

Its not often that you get to see a Tour de France winner compete in a small-town race open to amateurs.

Early reports had Lance Armstrong bowing out of his Ride for the Roses Downtown Criterium race for fear of injury, but Armstrong said that he wouldnt want to disappoint his fans and will compete after all.

Before Lance Armstrong, the original event was a small Valentines Day ride, with the winner taking home a dozen roses. The first event drew about 1,000 people.

Now, after Armstrong won the Tour de France, his foundation expects over 8,000 people, and they hope to top last years $700,000 in donations.

"The amount of publicity from the Tour has been great for cancer survivors and their loved ones," Armstrong told the Austin American-Statesman.

"I'm told that my story has been inspirational and caused people to take charge of their lives after cancer."

The main event is the 100-mile Ride for the Roses in the Texas Hill Country. Other events include a health fair, children's ride, gala dinner and U.S. Cycling Federation-sanctioned downtown criterium, in which Armstrong will try to top his 1999 second place to Eddy Gragus.

Paris-Roubaix by the numbers

The 98th running of the Hell of the North, as Paris-Roubaix is infamously known, takes place this year on April 9, here are some fast facts:

1 cm: Closest margin of victory (Planckaert over Bauer in 1990).

Four: Victories, by Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck, a Paris-Roubaix record.

12 hours, 15 minutes: Finishing time of Henri Plissier, winner in 1919, over the destroyed roads after World War I.

16: Most finishes at Paris-Roubaix by Belgian Raymond Impanis between 1947 and 1963 (15 by two-time winner Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle).

26: Sectors of cobblestone, or pave.

30: Victories by French riders.

47: Victories by Belgian riders.

38 years, 8 months: Age of Gilbert Duclos-Lassalles, the oldest winner (1993).

45.129 KPH: The highest average speed recorded by Peter Post in 1964. (Last year's winner, Andrea Tafi averaged 40.519 KPH).

66: Finishing riders last year, from a total of 183 who started

222K: Length of the victorious solo breakaway by Belgian Dirk De Mol in 1988.

273K: Total distance of the race.

1000 francs: Prize given to German Josef Fischer, the winner of the first edition in 1896. (Seven times the monthly salary of a miner at the time)

2400 meters: Distance of the infamous Forest of Arenberg Trench cobblestone section.

Bartoli Out

Spring classics favorite and former world cup winner Michele Bartoli (Mapei) will miss the rest of the early season due to his still not-fully recovered knee injury, hurt almost a full year ago. For the first time ever, Bartoli finished last in a race at last weeks Tour of Flanders.

Bartoli is suffering from an under balanced body; his "good" leg is overworked, causing his lower back and feet to hurt.

Doctors recommend that Bartoli begin again from scratch with weight work to bring the injured weak leg back to original strength.

His next scheduled race is the Grand Prix of Frankfurt, May 1.

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