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HEW-Cyclassics - CDM
Germany, August 4, 2002
By Jeff Jones
After a three month break, the UCI World Cup resumes on Sunday, August 4 with the HEW Cyclassics in Hamburg. Over the next three weekends, the World Cup will feature this race, followed by the Clasica San Sebastian on August 10, and the Meisterschaft von Zurich on August 18. The final two World Cup races are in October: Paris-Tours (Oct. 6) and Giro di Lombardia (Oct. 19).
The HEW Cyclassics has been on the World Cup program since 1998, when Leon Van Bon won it. In 1999, Italian Mirko Celestino surprised everyone to win from an eight man breakaway group. In 2000, Gabriele Missaglia and Francesco Casagrande stole the show in the final kilometres, preventing the expected bunch sprint. Last year, despite the best attempts of Jan Ullrich and others to escape, the race did finish in a bunch sprint with Erik Zabel taking the honours from Romans Vainsteins and World Cup leader Erik Dekker.
Erik Zabel will have the number one dossier in this year's edition of the race, which starts at 11:00am on Steinstraße, and finishes approximately 6 hours later on Mönckebergstraße. The fast and experienced German is motivated, but not in quite as good condition as last year when he won the green jersey in the Tour de France and subsequently the HEW Cyclassics. He will be supported by a strong Telekom squad, including lead out men Rolf Aldag, Gian Matteo Fagnini and Danilo Hondo.
Perhaps Zabel's biggest rival in a bunch sprint will be his Tour de France nemesis, Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Adecco), who broke Zabel's green jersey record streak with his win in the final stage on the Champs Elysées. The HEW Cyclassics is one of the few World Cups suited to McEwen's abilities, and he will rely on his team to bring him to the finish. If the race does not look like ending in a sprint, then Lotto will try and put Peter Van Petegem in a breakaway, as he is their man for the overall World Cup.
World Cup leader Johan Museeuw (Domo-Farm Frites) showed that he can still turn his legs over this week, winning the third and toughest stage of the Tour de la Region Wallone, beating Van Petegem and Janek Tombak in a bunch sprint. Museeuw currently leads the World Cup with 170 points, ahead of Mapei's Paolo Bettini (134 points) and has the form to pick up a few more points in Hamburg.
Paolo Bettini has to be considered another big favourite to win the World Cup this year. After a mid-season break, the Italian has come back to win the first stage of the Tour de la Region Wallone and currently holds the leader's jersey. His teammate Oscar Freire is another good candidate for HEW, demonstrating during the Tour that he could outsprint both Zabel and McEwen, if the conditions are right.
Lampre-Daikin boasts 2000 winner Gabriele Missaglia, who has had a quiet season so far. But their danger men will be Rubens Bertogliati, who wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France for two days, and Ludo Dierckxsens, who is as strong as he always is, not forgetting Jan Svorada and Zbigniew Spruch in a sprint.
Saeco-Longoni Sport also has a former winner in Mirko Celestino. Combined with the very much in form Italian champion Salvatore Commesso, Saeco looks to have a good chance on Sunday.
Rabobank's Erik Dekker successfully survived the Tour de France, but still doesn't consider himself in top condition to contest the World Cups. But Dekker is a classy rider and has a knack of getting himself in the right position at the right time. He was the principal animator in the finale of last year's race, and ended up as third, which effectively sealed the World Cup for him.
Laurent Jalabert lines up for CSC-Tiscali in Hamburg, and the King of the Mountains in the Tour de France is certain to try something, if he has the legs. After the Tour last year he won the Clasica San Sebastian. He's obviously in similarly good form this year.
The Fassa Bortolo squad will be led by the experienced Fabio Baldato, with Russian strong men Serguei Ivanov and Dmitri Konychev, along with Italians Nicola Loda, Roberto Petito, Matteo Tosatto, Denis Zanette and Marco Zanotti. Baldato had a good Tour, and could be a top 3 finisher in Hamburg.
Team Gerolsteiner will be looking to get Davide Rebellin into something, hopefully a breakaway. But they also have Lithuanian sprinter Saulius Ruskys, and a number of other strong riders, including Rene Haselbacher, Olaf Pollack, and Torsten Schmidt.
The US Postal Service squad will mainly feature riders who did not race the Tour de France, save for team captain George Hincapie. The 29 year old will now be in the team leader's role, and if his Tour form is anything to go by, he will be a man to watch.
The parcours is split into two sections: A 168 kilometre figure eight, taking the riders along the Elbe river for a substantial portion. This includes the famous bridge over the Elbe, the Köhlbrandbrücke, which is also a fairly gradual climb. Once the riders cross the start finish on Mönckebergstrasse again, they have to complete two more laps of a 41.4 kilometre circuit. This is often where some sort of selection is made on the Grotiusweg and Waseberg, although bunch sprints are generally the norm in this race.
2001: 1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 253 kms in 5.59.02 (41.945 km/h) 2 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites 3 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 2000: 1 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 253 kms in 6.17.22 (39.90 km/h) 2 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec 3 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1999: 1 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Polti 253 kms in 6.20.39 (39.88 km/h) 2 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Nurnberger 3 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola 1998: 1 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Rabobank 253 kms in 6.09.31 (41.14 km/h) 2 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Asics 3 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Lotto-Mobistar 1997: 1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Telekom 160 kms in 4.10.04 (38.38 km/h) 2 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) Mapei 3 Jens Heppner (Ger) Telekom 1996: 1 Rossano Brasi (Ita) Team Polti 160 kms in 3.33.18 (45.00 km/h) 2 Bert Dietz (Ger) Telekom 3 Steffen Rein (Ger) Team Nürnberger