Vattenfall Cyclassics: Greipel proclaims the Year of the Gorilla

The streets of Hamburg played host to the 20th Vattenfall Cyclassic today, and the hordes of fans who flanked the final straight were treated to what has become a customary display of dominance from Andre Greipel.

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With a predominantly flat parcours, and featuring a veritable who’s who of sprinting talent, a bunch sprint was always a likely scenario today, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this was a straightforward race. Drama and excitement was provided throughout, by a succession of riders attacking the bunch right up to the final kilometre. The pace meant that nobody managed to secure a sufficient gap to make a break stick, but it also prevented the big sprint trains from organising themselves and establishing control at the front of the pack. What resulted was a scrappy and nervous run into the home straight, with a crash taking out, amongst others, Mark Cavendish. Losing his lead-out with 2km to go, Greipel picked up Alexander Kristoff’s wheel, and profiting from the Katusha man, came off his wheel to take victory.

Rider of the Day

Boonen had a great Eneco and nearly made the podium for Vattenfall

Boonen had a great Eneco and nearly made the podium for Vattenfall

Not wanting to turn this into the Andre Greipel show, I’m going to give a hat-tip to Tom Boonen for salvaging a bit of cheer for Etixx after Cavendish was ruled out of contention by a late crash. Tornado Tom was the sole member of the Belgian outfit to be at the sharp end of the race as it lurched for home, and managed to hold a more than respectable fourth place finish. Etixx rolled into Hamburg with something of an all-star team, so it will be something of a relief that Boonen was able to salvage something from the day.

Two things we noticed

1 The comeback kids They may not have lit up the road, but Tony Martin (Etixx) and Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) will be pleased to have returned to competitive racing and come through the race unscathed. Even though Kittel will be disappointed not to have been in the mix for the sprint, and Martin wasn’t able to perform his customary lead-out work for Cavendish, it’s great to see them both back.

2 Greipel’s declaration of independence There’s more to Andre Greipel’s sprint successes than a solid lead-out train and he proved that today. For a “sprinters’ race”, the finale didn’t really follow the typical pattern of a bunch sprint. High speeds, a trimmed-down peloton, and a late crash meant that Greipel didn’t have his usual big guns to set him up. Instead, he demonstrated his canny use of other people’s wheels, knowing just who to follow, and just when to unleash the power. This is very much the Year of the Gorilla and it’s great that we’re able to see this likeable guy in such great form.

Final standings

1 Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) 04:57:05

2 Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) +0:00

3 Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) +0:00

4 Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step) +0:00

5 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) +0:00

6 Arnaud Demare (FDJ) +0:00

7 Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:00

8 Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin)  +0:00

9 Niccolo Bonifazio (Lampre-Merida) +0:00

10 Rasmus Guldhammer (Cult Energy Pro Cycling) +0:00

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