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Photo ©: Bettini

HEW-Cyclassics-Cup - ProT

Hamburg, Germany, July 31, 2005

Massive line-up at Cyclassics' 10th birthday

By Hedwig Kr÷ner

2004 winner Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
Photo ©: AFP

The German city of Hamburg will be gearing up this weekend to celebrate the HEW-Cyclassics' 10th anniversary, which has moved up from the World Cup to being a ProTour race, thus attracting even more top participants. This year, the traditionally bumpy course takes a new turn into the countryside south of the German metropolis, peaking with the moderate climb of Langenrehm after 58 km. It then maintains the circuit loop established in the 2004 edition with a view to make life harder for the sprinters, making the bunch climb the Waseberg (a 600 metre wall of up to 16%) four times - but only the first three passes counting for the mountains classification.

Fortunately, this won't prevent the international sprinting elite from trying their luck. Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will be in Hamburg after a longer break from racing and might be fresher than Tour de France than the rest. Cofidis sprinter Stuart O'Grady will be looking forward to defend his title from last year, as well as having something to prove after the Tour.

On paper, Quick.Step will have two leaders at the race: Belgian superstar Tom Boonen, who was forced to miss out on the Tour de France mountains and more importantly, the green jersey. If he's back to previous form, Boonen could well be called a top favourite at the German one-day-race not, only for his finishing speed, but also for his incredibly successful spring classics season, where he has shown his talents are versatile. But recent reports indicate that Boonen is still having problems with his knee after his crash while descending the mountainside from Courchevel on the Alpine stage to Brianšon, and he has only been able to ride his bike slowly - at 27 km/h. It is therefore possible that the young super sprinter will work for Italian Paolo Bettini, who would like to repeat his 2003 win in Hamburg. The Waseberg is very much suited for the explosive 'Grillo', and with these two contenders the racing tactics of Quick.Step will be interesting to watch.

Another rider to observe is Danilo di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi), who will also be aiming at improving his ProTour points lead. Davitamon-Lotto is travelling to Northern Germany with Classics man Peter Van Petegem instead of Robbie McEwen, and home team Gerolsteiner is counting on Davide Rebellin. T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich will surely bathe in the cheers of his fellow countrymen and would like to score a victory, but might just be concentrating on the Tour of Germany in August instead, where his skills as a complete rider might make more of a difference. One thing's for sure: the German crowds will make the event a memorable one if the weather's on the riders' side: for Sunday, a maximum of 19░ Celsius has been forecast, with a risk of showers in the afternoon.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 10th HEW-Cyclassics-Cup live starting 15:00 CEST/11:00 EDT (USA East)/8:00 PDT (USA West)/23:00 AEST (Australia East).