According to KNWU Technical Director Thorwald Veneberg, it was "a logical choice". The former Rabobank rider went on to say that it makes no sense that a team backed by the KNWU would contribute to the development of German riders. From the outset, it seemed strange that Zabel and Zepuntke would be here for 2013 but after the quick departure of Rabobank as a sponsor, it would have been bad to push them out. In any case, the parting seems to be amicable.
@zabelrick I might know a team for you... #PROVEIT
— axelmerckx (@axelmerckx) April 23, 2013
Now the speculation will begin where two talented riders will end up for 2014. There could be a very plausible argument that Zabel could make the jump to the World Tour next season but in my opinion, another year in the U23 ranks would serve him well as he will only be 20 years old this year. Above, you can see Bontrager CT Axel Merckx tweeting Zabel after the news came out. Zepuntke will also have to look for greener pastures and after two solid seasons as a U23, he will be a hot commodity on the transfer market. While not as talked about as Zabel, Zepuntke has great time trialling skills along with a body suited to classics and flatter stage races.
|Hmmm Zabel to OPQS? (Photo: @ZabelRick)|