Vattenfall Cyclassics preview

The Vuelta a España might be underway but there are other WorldTour events taking place, including the one-day Vattenfall Cyclassics around the beautiful city of Hamburg. Indeed, it’s the only race of its kind at this level in Germany and, like a lot of the Classics-style races, is preceded by a number of amateur events for all age groups and abilities.

What kind of race is it?

The sprint-friendly race started in 1996 and came to prominence in 1997 when Jan Ullrich (Deutsche-Telecom) won both the Tour de France and this race, then called the HEW Cyclassic, in the same year. The event gained World Cup status the following year and since 2005 has been a part of the UCI Pro and now WorldTour. The parcours tends to favour sprinters, provided they can manage the short, but steep climbs and then regroup on the flat run into the finish.

In recent years the race has been won by:

2012: Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat)

2011: Edvald Boassen Hagen (Sky)

2010: Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions)

2009: Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream)

2008: Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto)

What happened last year?

2012 podium (image: Vattenfalls Cyclassic)

2012 podium (Image: Vattenfall Cyclassics)

FDJ-BigMat’s Arnaud Demare became the first French winner – and youngest overall – of the race. The then reigning under-23 road race world champion outfoxed several of the peloton’s biggest names in the hurly-burly of an uncontrolled bunch finish. With Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel breathing down his neck, the young Frenchman went long and, despite the home crowd urging on Greipel, held his nerve to take victory by two bike lengths. RadioShack’s Giacomo Nizzolo took third, just ahead of the Belgian tricolore-clad Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and 2011 winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky).

You will find our review of 2012’s race here.

1. Arnaud Demare (FDJ-BigMat) 6:03:20

2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) same time

3. Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) s/t

4. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s/t

5. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) s/t

6. Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) s/t

7. Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Sharp) s/t

8. Manuel Belletti (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t

9. Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) s/t

10. Borut Bozic (Astana) s/t

This year’s race

Vattenfalls Cyclassic race route

The 247km parcours starts and finishes in Hamburg and takes in some of its historic sights and surrounding countryside. It heads south and then west, with the peloton riding two large circuits and then three smaller ones. The route varies slightly each year. The Langenrehm climb, which used to come just before the finish, is now 59kms into the race and, rising to only 140 metres, it’s more of a bump than a mountain. That said, the route is largely unchanged from last year with the exception that the southern loop will be raced anti- rather than clockwise. The most difficult challenge is always the Waseberg: 300 metres long, 50 metres high with a leg-sapping 15% incline which is taken on three times, the last one just 15kms from the finish. It’s typically here that riders attack, try to escape the pack and stay away.  But, more often than not, a reduced pack pulls back the escapee(s) for a deciding bunch sprint.

Who to watch

The 2012 podium are all riding and it’s a pretty impressive supporting cast of sprinters gathering to contest the race. You can well imagine that, having seen the preview of the Vuelta parcours earlier this year, many sprinters immediately inked this race into their race calendar.

Defending champion (and Ride London Classic winner) Demare is in fine form but he’ll find himself being marked much closer than last year. I still wouldn’t rule him out for a repeat win.

The Germans, led by runner-up Greipel, will be keen for victory on home soil and he showed his phenomenal strength in the recent Eneco Tour. Not so Tour de France star Marcel Kittel who was uncharacteristically subdued post John Degenkolb‘s wedding celebrations, however the duo have the advantage of a two-pronged Argonaut attack force.

Scanning the star-studded start list, there’s Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) and the mighty God of Thunder, Thor Hushovd (BMC) who stormed to victory in the recent Arctic Tour of Norway, proudly wearing his national jersey.

Will Thor bestride the Vattenfalls podium too? (image: BMC)

Will Thor bestride the Vattenfall podium too? (image: BMC)

Belkin have Lars Boom who will be looking to avenge his loss of the Eneco Tour and Astana field 2011 third-placed Borut Bozic. Cannondale come with recent Dutch Food Valley Classic winner Elia Viviani. While the soon-to-be-disappearing-forever Euskaltel-Euskadi [cue loud sobbing] are fielding their non-Basque sprinter Juan Jose Lobato. Could the Carrots go out with a bang rather than a whimper?

Check cyclingfans for television coverage on Sunday afternoon.

Link: Official website

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