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Cyclist trains for Beijing in Park City

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Olympic cyclist David Zabriskie paused his training in Park City last week to discuss air pollution, driver/bicyclist relations and whether doping scandals have scarred the image of professional cycling.

"I’m setting a good example and my team is setting a good example," Zabriskie said about his team’s anti-doping policies. "The reason that people are getting caught is because we’re the only sport doing the testing, basically."

The Utah native said he disagrees with critics who say the image of cycling has suffered.

"The people that like the sport continue to like the sport," Zabriskie said. "The people who don’t like it, it just gives them one more reason to not like it."

But cycling in America may never reach the popularity the sport enjoys in Europe.

"It’s much bigger over there," Zabriskie said. "The Tour of California is the only thing here that can rival a race over there."

Perhaps Zabriskie is best known for wearing the race leader’s yellow jersey in the 2005 Tour de France. Zabriskie couldn’t race in the Tour this year because he broke his back in the second stage of the Giro d’Italia May 10.

"I wasn’t able to do the Tour de France in preparation for [the Olympics,]" the first-time Olympian said.

A road race is scheduled for the 29-year-old Aug. 9 and an Olympics time trail is scheduled in China Aug, 13.

"I think it’s seven laps around some part of Beijing," Zabriskie said about the road race. "We hope air is getting better It can’t be healthy."

He said he avoids training in Salt Lake City when there is very dirty air.

"I definitely don’t want to breathe bad stuff," Zabriskie said about pollution in China.

Zabriskie has wanted to compete in the Olympics since he saw the rings at a training center in Colorado Springs, Colo., when he attended Olympus High School.

"The [Tour de France] has a lot of history, but the Olympics has a lot of history and it’s neat to see all the other sports there at once," Zabriskie said. "I’m excited to meet all the other nations and all the other athletes."

Zabriskie thanked drivers who didn’t honk at him as he rode last month in Park City and the Snyderville Basin.

"I had a little kid for the month and he drove a scooter in front of me," Zabriskie said. "We trained pretty hard every day I did the Royal Street hill quite a bit."

Motorists and cyclists must get along, he said.

"People in cars do not realize that a life is attached to the bicycle," Zabriskie said. "If they could just let off the gas for a little bit and be patient for a couple seconds, they could save a life."

He stayed last month at the Village at Empire Pass to train at altitudes about 8,000 feet.

"[Zabriskie] was given an automatic selection to the Olympics based on his results earlier in the year and he was looking for a place to stay and be at altitude," said Thomas Cook, director of marketing for Deer Valley Lodging and Premier Resorts Park City. "There is a significant difference for an endurance athlete to rest and recover above 8,000 feet We put him in a place up in Empire Pass because it’s highest in elevation."

Zabriskie was slated to fly to Beijing from San Francisco Monday.

"I cared about the other races, but this is the one that I really always wanted to participate in," he said. "Now it’s going to happen I’m pretty excited."


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