Vattenfall Cyclassics preview

Today brings us the Vattenfall Cyclassics, Germany’s only WorldTour event. It’s the latest in a string of late summer/autumn races set to please the sprinters and classics specialists alike, providing them with a valuable opportunity to get some hard racing into the legs before the World Championships in Richmond. It’s a race that always produces fast, aggressive riding, with the classics specialists looking to spoil the sprint teams’ fun.

The parcours

Vattenfalls Cyclassic Map

  • To celebrate the race’s 20th anniversary, this year’s 221.3km route starts in the port of Kiel, the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein, before heading past Lake Plön, Bad Segeberg, Kaltenkirchen and Pinneberg to the west of Hamburg.
  • The action then switches to three loops of a 12.6km city centre circuit before a furious dash to the finish line on Hamburg’s Mönckebergstrasse.
  • The route is largely flat, but don’t for one minute think this is an easy race. The organisers make the best use of the terrain, though the real test comes on the city centre circuit which includes three ascents of the Waseberg.
  •  At 300 metres long with a steady ramp of  15%, the Waseberg is tough. Expect to see repeated attacks and selections on this climb, as the classics specialists try to drop the out-and-out sprinters.
  • After the last ascent it’s a furious dash to the line, with teams all jostling for position into the last turn 2km from the finish. From then on it’s a no holds barred dash to the line.

Riders to watch

There’s a mouth-watering array of sprinting and classics talent at this event making it hard to predict just who might win. Although there will be fierce attacks on the last ascent of the Waseberg, the flat 15km run to the line should make sure this race comes down to a sprint. However, the long distance and those leg-sapping ascents mean we also need to look at the stronger riders.

Four stage wins for Greipel at this year's Tour (image: photonews)

Four stage wins for Greipel at this year’s Tour (Image: Photonews)

A man at the top of his game who’s yet to win here is Lotto Soudal’s Andre Greipel, fresh from winning a stage and the points jersey at the Eneco Tour. He’s finished on the podium three times previously. I’m sure he’d like to take the top step and, as we saw in the Tour de France, his climbing is much improved this season.

Another rider in fine form and gunning for team leadership in the World Championships is BMC’s Philippe Gilbert. He may not have won a stage at the Eneco Tour (fourth overall) but he looked lively and was aggressive throughout the race. He was runner-up in the recent Clasica San Sebastian and has an enviable palmares when it comes to one-day races, though he’s yet to add this one to his tally.

Defending champion, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) will be keen to retain his crown and add to his tally of 19 victories in 2015 after winning a stage and the points jersey at the recent Arctic Race of Norway.

In the absence of 2013 winner John Degenkolb, who is competing in the Vuelta, Marcel Kittel will be flying the flag for Giant-Alpecin. His season has been disrupted by illness but a stage win and the points jersey in the Tour of Poland saw a return to winning ways.

Finally, let’s not forget 2012 winner Arnaud Demare (FDJ), who’s been experiencing a bit of an arid season and hasn’t lifted his arms in victory since the Baloise Tour of Belgium at the end of May. He needs to cement leadership of the French team at the World Championships with a repeat victory here.

Featured image: Hamburg from Wikipedia

Link: Official race website

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