Rick Zabel Q&A: “I was a really bad kid”

It takes a lot of effort to keep your locks as luscious as Rick Zabel’s. It’s no laughing matter either – unless you’re filming a hair commercial with your team-mates. Then it can be a challenge to keep a straight face.

As son of Erik Zabel, the multiple Milan-Sanremo winner, Rick Zabel was always going to have some tough boots to step into. But part of the developing Katusha sprint train, the 24-year-old has shown his father’s passion for speed.

Rouleur caught up with young German sprinter when he was at the Tour of Britain. He tells us about heroes, receding hairlines and running away.

Rouleur: What’s been the best food you’ve tasted in Britain?

Rick Zabel: The best food? That’s hard because we didn’t have good food in Britain! I think yesterday we had fish and chips for dinner, that was pretty good. But, for the rest, I’m not a fan of the British kitchen – especially the breakfasts. 

I come from Germany where we have good bread. You have sausages and all these things for breakfasts like bacon and eggs. The eggs are okay actually, but I’m not too sure about the rest. We made a lot of fun out of [Alex] Dowsett because it’s his home country. We were saying we were going to be so happy when we can leave again [laughs].

What’s your favourite German food?

Doner kebab. That’s the best. 

And you complain about British food?

What?! It’s really good in Germany.

If you weren’t a cyclist, what would you be?

This is always a hard question that I find really hard to answer. But I would love to be an actor or something. That would be cool.

Who is your hero?

In cycling it’s definitely Andre Greipel. When I was younger there were a lot of heroes for me. For example: Tom Boonen or Mark Cavendish. But since I turned professional the one who’s been the kindest to me is Andre Greipel. For me he’s a big champion and a real role model to me. He’s someone I really like as a friend. 

As a child what’s the angriest your parents ever got with you?

There were a lot of things. I mean my Mum always used to say there was a reason why I have no brothers or sisters; because I was a really bad kid. 

You put them off having any more?

Exactly [laughs]. They were already busy with me and said they couldn’t have a second one. But the thing that made them get angry was I was pretty good at escaping and going off on my own and then they didn’t know where I was.

What, like jump out your bedroom window?

No, more like out of normal situation. For example, one day we were at breakfast in a hotel and they were putting something on their plates. When they looked back I was gone. They were searching for me around the hotel for 20 minutes. When they found me I was in so much trouble. I was always doing things like that.

Was it difficult for you and your team-mates to all look so serious when you were filming the Alpecin shampoo commercial?

Yes, that took a long time to get right. But the one that’s on TV now, where I’ve didn’t have to say anything, this was easier.

But you still had to keep a straight face?

Yeah true, but this was 10 – 15 minutes. But the previous one we shot where we were on the rollers with the shampoo in the hair, this took like two hours. And then the sound was not good so the guy from Alpecin had to come to another race afterwards and find a room with no sound so we could record the lines again. I had to say the lines and did it about 500 times. In the end they took another voice [laughs].

In one word how would you describe using Alpecin Shampoo?

Cool! I mean it’s against hair loss which is a pretty cool thing. I’m quite proud of my hair but already I have started receding, I get it from my Dad. I would be happy if it stays like this and doesn’t recede more. So that’s why I also use Alpecin. I think hair is a cool thing and you should prevent the hair loss.

When did you learn to do the Floss dance?

I think it was last year. I’m pretty interested in music and music videos and I was watching this video from Katy Perry and this backpack kid did it on stage. I think it was the first time I had seen someone do it and I was pretty impressed. So I tried it a little bit in front of the mirror, but it took me a while until I realised how it’s working.

Could it be seen as a podium dance for you?

Lately I haven’t been on the podium so much. But if I’m there, it could be a cool thing to do, so why not? As long as nobody else has done it already.


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