Cycling: Zabel sates appetite

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with the Tour de France

The Bordeaux region has a great tradition among those who enjoy good food and wine, and a dash of panache with their sprint finishes.

After sizzling on the hob-flat Les Landes, a Tour de France finish in Bordeaux usually ends with a boiling of sprinters. Yesterday the Berliner Erik Zabel, one of the new kids on the sprinting block, again sated his appetite, two weeks after winning his first Tour stage on his 25th birthday.

Zabel's finish was as correct and straight as expected of a German, but Djamolidine Abdoujaparov's sprint was more with a dash of panic.

The once-feared Uzbekistani's potent finishing punch lacks zest these days. Yesterday's second was the best he has managed in Tour finishes this year, and he is spending money almost as fast as he makes it.

For the second time in this Tour he was fined 250 Swiss francs (pounds 138) for erratic sprinting. Yesterday he sliced across the head of the sprinting field in a vain drive for victory.

"Abdou is still very fast," Zabel said. "However, he has lost strength contesting those intermediate sprints with Jalabert, and he must be having psychological problems because he has not got a contract for next season.''

Jan Raas, the team manager, confirmed that he was losing current sponsor, Novell, and that his next backer's team would not contain Abdou.

"For his qualities and salary he should have won more," Dutchman Raas said. "He is doing everything to win, but he is under strain because he has to prove himself to find another team.''

The riders of Castorama started the Tour at the beginning of the month knowing that they also would be unemployed soon. They have done everything possibly to promote their cause, and held the yellow jersey for a day after Jacky Durand won the opening time-trial in Brittany.

TOUR DE FRANCE Stage 17 (Pau to Bordeaux, 153 miles): 1 E Zabel (Ger) Telekom-ZG 6hr 29min 49sec; 2 D Abdoujaparov (Uzb) Novell; 3 S Colage (It) Telekom-ZG; 4 G Lombardi (It) Polti; 5 J Museeuw (Bel) Mapei GB; 6 M Sciandri (GB) MG Technogym; 7 L Jalabert (Fr) ONCE; 8 F Simon (Fr) Castorama; 9 A Ferrigato (It) Telekom-ZG; 10 A Tchmil (Ukr) Lotto; 11 F Andreu (US) Motorola; 12 M Serpellini (It) Lampre; 13 R Aldag (Ger) Telekom-ZG; 14 M Siboni (It) Carrera; 15 B Riis (Den) Gewiss-Ballan; 16 Y Ledanois (Fr) GAN; 17 L Brochard (Fr) Festina; 18 J Skibby (Den) TVM; 19 A Gontchenkov (Ukr) Lampre; 20 B Cenghialta (It) Gewiss-Ballan all s/t. Leading overall standings: 1 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto 84hr 11min 52sec; 2 A Zulle (Swit) ONCE +2min 46sec; 3 Riis +5:59; 4 Jalabert +6:26; 5 I Gotti (It) Gewiss-Ballan +9:52; 6 M Mauri (Sp) ONCE +13:02; 7 F Escartin (Sp) Mapei GB +14:03; 8 H Buenahora (Col) Kelme +14:07; 9 C Chiappucci (It) Carrera +14:35; 10 R Virenque (Fr) Festina +14:54; 11 T Rominger (Swit) Mapei GB 15:41; 12 L Madouas (Fr) Castorama +17:22; 13 M Pantani (It) Carrera +20:54; 14 P Lanfranchi (It) Brescialat +23:01; 15 A Mejia (Col) Motorola +30:33; 16 B Hamburger (Den) TVM 31:05; 17 Cenghialta +31:08; 18 V Ekimov (Rus) Novell +42:40; 19 E Breukink (Neth) ONCE 43:44; 20 V Aparicio (Sp) Banesto 46:08. Points classification: 1 L Jalabert (Fr) ONCE 301; 2 D Abdoujaparov (Uzb) Novell 236; 3 M Indurain (Sp) Banesto 165. King of the Mountains: 1 R Virenque (Fr) Festina 438pts; 2 C Chiappucci (It) Carrera 207; 3 A Zulle (Swit) ONCE 205. Overall team: 1 ONCE 252hr 50min 16sec; 2 Gewiss-Ballan +12:55; 3. Mapei GB +53:03.