Back onto the relative flats. The sprints have been intriguing, as Zabel looks for some redemption and a place to vent his anger against the Stuttgart organizers for trying to force him out of the Worlds. Remember, last year he was a narrow second to Bettini, and vowed to stay on another year primarily for a shot at the title. He needs to win stages in Germany to put pressure on the German federation to reserve his spot. There are a lot of reasons to give him a chance, and the only mark against him is his doping confession -- which could just as easily be seen as a rare moment of honesty rather than a confession of dishonesty. Zabel is racing on emotion these days, I'd bet. And his placing today is very important to him and a few others.
Also, he needs Ciolek to keep looking inexperienced. Default is just as valid a route to the national squad as any.