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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Zabel ruled out of Tour de France
Erik Zabel
Zabel has been one of the Tour's best ever sprinters
Erik Zabel will miss this year's Tour de France after being left out of his T-Mobile team's 13-man pre-selection squad for the race.

The 34-year-old German, a record six-time green jersey winner in the Tour, had been hopeful of making the team's official nine-man line-up.

But he told the team's website: "I'm naturally disappointed.

"It would have been my 12th Tour de France, but I'm a professional and I accept this."

Zabel's team will be headed up by his countryman Jan Ullrich, who is tipped to be Lance Armstrong's leading rival for the Tour.

T-Mobile sporting director Mario Kummer said: "It was a difficult decision to take but we have a strategy to follow.

"With three riders (Ullrich, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Kloden) who have already finished on the podium at the Tour de France, our goal is clearly to win the Tour."

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