Vattenfall Cyclassics - ProT
Germany, July 30, 2006
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Live Commentary by Jeff Jones
Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:30 CEST
Photo ©: Ulrik Møberg
Welcome to Deutschland for our live
coverage of the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the race formerly known as the HEW Cyclassics.
Taking place in and around Hamburg, the race covers 243 km and is the first
one day ProTour race in three months: Liege-Bastogne-Liege was the last one,
back in April. The riders start with 150 km, taking in two big loops to the
south and the west of Hamburg. That is followed by two laps of a 42 km circuit
(yes I know that doesn't quite add up, but there's an extra little loop with
another climb on the last lap) before the finish on Mönckerbergstrasse. The
key point is the 600m, 15% Waseberg climb, which is ridden four times. The final
summit is with 16 km to go, so there is often a regrouping after the top.
The race began at 11:20 with a 4.8
km neutral section, before the flag went down at 11:30ish. A three man breakaway
managed to escape after 40 km, containing Dario Andriotto (Liquigas), Corey
Sweet (Wiesenhof) and Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole). The group gained as
much as 13 minutes, but was brought back to 9 minutes by the halfway point.
Unfortunately for Andriotto, he crashed into a camera moto at this point, and
had to drop out of the break.
There have been more crashes in the
main field: Bileka (Discovery), Ian McLeod (FDJ), Andy Flickinger (Bouygues),
Bert Grabsch (Phonak), Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) and Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner)
all went down.
15:04 CEST 149km/94km to go
On the first time
up the Waseberg, it was Sweet leading Bodrogi over the top. In the peloton,
last year's winner Filippo Pozzato showed himself at the front on the climb.
The front was a good place to be, as the Liquigas car managed to snag two of
its bikes on the roof in an advertising banner, sending the bikes flying into
the air. Fortunately, no-one was injured.
Sweet and Bodrogi lead
by just under 8 minutes as they approach the finish line for the first time.
15:05 CEST 151km/92km to go
and T-Mobile are driving the peloton now, working to reduce the advantage of
the leaders in the final two laps.
15:10 CEST 154km/89km to go
T-Mobile, which has
now confirmed that it is sacking team manager Olaf Ludwig at the end of October
and replacing him with Bob Stapleton, is one of the teams driving the pace at
the moment. The German squad has riders like Matthias Kessler, Lorenzo Bernucci,
Kim Kirchen and perhaps Olaf Pollack if it comes to a bunch sprint.
15:16 CEST 158km/85km to go
The pace is really
on in the peloton now, and Sweet and Bodrogi won't last too much longer out
in front. The gap is down to around four minutes as the two leaders start to
15:27 CEST 166km/77km to go
The peloton passes
through the feedzone, and the chasing pace eases up for a bit, with the gap
going up to 4'40 again. Meanwhile, the leaders are approaching the Waseberg
for the second time.
The biggest German one-day race is
held in the aftermath of 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis' positive A
probe for performance-enhancing hormone testosterone. Germany's public TV stations
ARD and ZDF have since questioned their transmission of cycling races if the
sports biggest problem is not solved, and the German cycling federation decided
to make way for an anti-doping law just one day prior to the event.
To explain the positive doping test result after stage 17 of the Tour de France,
which he won after an impressive solo ride in high mountains, Landis has argued
that his relatively high level of testosterone was naturally produced by his
own body. The analytical basis for the test being the ratio between testosterone
and epitestosterone, normally averaging 1:1, a suspicion of doping is being
assumed if this ratio is higher than 4:1.
In Landis' case, German
media have rumoured the result to be 11:1. "In our medical files appear not
only blood levels, but also our testosterone status," said professional cyclists'
representative Jens Voigt before the race. "It shouldn't be hard to find out
if Landis is telling the truth."
15:45 CEST 174km/69km to go
The two leaders,
who've been out in front for nearly 150 km, hit the Waseberg for the second
The weather today is slightly overcast, but dry at the moment.
15:51 CEST 183km/60km to go
The two leaders are
finally swallowed with 60 km to go as the big guns wind it up after the Waseberg.
Well, nearly 150 km out in front for Corey Sweet and Laszlo Bodrogi.
15:52 CEST 186km/57km to go
With the break caught,
the attacks continue now with Aart Vierhouten (Skil Shimano) getting a small
gap as the peloton snakes into Hamburg.
15:53 CEST 188km/55km to go
Vierhouten is caught
by a Gerolsteiner rider and a couple more, with the peloton strung out in pursuit.
Now a T-Mobile and Milram rider hook on, and there are six in front.
15:55 CEST 190km/53km to go
The break tries hard
to get clear, but the peloton is still in a line, and comes back to the six
leaders. The pace is very much on.
The peloton is flying towards the
second passage of the finish line on the Mönckerbergstrasse. Is that Pozzato
driving on the front? It looks like his style - perhaps he's working for Bettini
No, it's Wouter Weylandt from Quick.Step.
The young sprinter from Gentbrugge has a small gap over the peloton.
16:00 CEST 192km/51km to go
Weylandt powers up
the finishing straight in front of a moderate sized crowd waving noisemakers.
The peloton is right on the Belgian's wheel as he crosses the line about 10m
in front of the bunch.
16:01 CEST 193km/50km to go
Weylandt falls back
into the peloton, which continues to be strung out in a line.
average speed is already over 43 km/h. It's a perfect day for a race: 28 degrees,
very little wind.
16:03 CEST 194km/49km to go
Now it's a Barloworld
rider having a go with an FDJ: Christophe Detilloux. But these two are also
caught as Astana goes on the attack.
16:05 CEST 196km/47km to go
Riders are constantly
trying to create a breakaway but nothing is sticking yet as the race passes
through St Pauli.
Fabian Wegmann is at the back, getting bidons.
He'll be looking to set up Rebellin today. Rebellin recently won the Brixia
Tour, and is in good nick.
Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano)
gets into a three man move with Mauro Facci (Barloworld) and Serguei Yakovlev
(Astana). They pass through the feed zone with a small gap to the peloton.
The best placed rider on GC is Tjallingii.
Oh wait, that was another race.
16:10 CEST 200km/43km to go
Tjallingii uses his
considerable engine to drive the break. The former mountainbiker is having a
great season on the road, winning the Tours of Belgium and Qinghai Lake.
Matthias Kessler is driving the peloton with Kim Kirchen on his wheel. So Kessler
is probably not T-Mobile's designated man today. The break is caught.
Kessler, Kirchen and Gilbert (FDJ)
are the first three in the peloton, but there are more attacks. Kirchen and
Gilbert keep the pace up.
16:12 CEST 201km/42km to go
The tall Johan Vansummeren
(Davitamon) puts in a "behind a moto" attack and takes a few riders off the
front, but the gap is quickly closed. Tankink is now on the front for Quick.Step.
The bunch races along the Elbe, heading
for the third climb of the Waseberg, which is due in about 10 km. There's one
more after that. A Barloworld rider attacks and then sits up almost immediately.
16:16 CEST 204km/39km to go
De Maar (Rabobank)
leads the bunch, looking around as the pace slows. Paolo Bettini is in last
wheel - odd, but he can always move up.
Now it's Lampre trying to control
the peloton, which is riding through the dense trees in Elbchaussee.
Bettini looks very comfortable at the back.
16:18 CEST 207km/36km to go
The peloton seems
content to let Lampre do the work. Commesso is in second wheel.
16:20 CEST 208km/35km to go
The bunch is still
well over 100 riders strong, and there is a host of Lampres leading it. Loosli,
Stangelj, Carrara, Corioni, Commesso are all there.
Weylandt brings up Pozzato to near
the front, just behind the Lampre train.
16:22 CEST 209km/34km to go
Now Bettini does
a Houdini and appears at the front, with Kim Kirchen in tow. They take a sharp
left hand turn off the big road and string out in a line again. The pace is
up around the 50 km/h mark.
16:23 CEST 210km/33km to go
Bettini is now working
on the front with Gerben Löwik (Rabobank) and Vansummeren in tow. Kim Kirchen
is up there in his Luxembourg champion's jersey, as is Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step).
16:24 CEST 211km/32km to go
The battle for the
front position is really on. CSC is the next team to try to take control. David
Millar is easy to spot too - he's tall and clad in yellow.
Sweet, who was in the early break, is at the back of the bunch.
16:25 CEST 213km/30km to go
The bunch winds through
the trees and it's tricky to keep position. Gilbert attacks just before the
16:26 CEST 214km/29km to go
Gilbert still has
a few km to go before the Waseberg, but he'll hope to reach it a) with a bit
of an advantage and b) without emptying the tank.
Gilbert puts the power down on the
pedals as he hammers along on this false flat. This isn't easy, before the climb.
16:28 CEST 215km/28km to go
Gilbert has a good
five seconds as he takes a sharp left very well, then onto a very narrow, steep
descent. He sweeps to the left again and is almost at the Waseberg.
Gilbert affords himself a glance
back and there is one rider trying to get across at 5 seconds. the peloton is
another 5 seconds back.
The bunch is a solid block with everyone
trying to be on the front row. Gilbert tackles the Waseberg and looks good at
16:30 CEST 216km/27km to go
Gilbert changes down
to the small ring and keeps his cadence up, then gets out of the saddle as the
16% section starts.
Vinokourov is in the middle of the
peloton. A T-Mobile is trying to get Gilbert, who is at the top.
The T-Mobile was Pollack, but Wegmann
leads the peloton past at 10 seconds. Millar is well placed in about 6th wheel.
16:32 CEST 217km/26km to go
The advantage is
now with Gilbert, but he will have company soon. One by one, riders are trying
to get across. The roads are twisty and narrow here at the top of the climb.
Wegmann is driving his way across the gap.
Wegmann can see Gilbert just in front
of him as the road continues to undulate at the top. Gilbert eats something
and waits for the German.
16:33 CEST 218km/25km to go
Gilbert and Wegmann
are now together as various riders try to chase. a Credit Agricole, Caisse d'Epargne
and Wiesenhof fail miserably to cooperate and the peloton catches them.
It looks like Vladimir Efimkin (Caisse
d'Epargne) is trying to lead a counter attack with Vansummeren and a couple
of others behind Wegmann and Gilbert. The latter is still eating. The two leaders
have 29 seconds!
16:37 CEST 219km/24km to go
Mark Renshaw (Credit
Agricole) is next to try to chase and he gets a Rabobank rider for company.
It's pretty disorganised, but fast.
16:39 CEST 220km/23km to go
Der Maar, Velo, Bernucci,
Renshaw and three more have a small gap over the bunch, which is now 50-60 riders
strong. They will probably get caught. Yep. Commesso counters.
Wegmann and Gilbert lead the race as they approach the final climb of the Waseberg.
The leaders are doing well, and now
have 41 seconds. This is getting up to a dangerous gap to pull back in the last
16:42 CEST 224km/19km to go
The gap is a minute
now as Wegmann and Gilbert work well together. These two young riders are really
making the race today, while the other teams work out what to do.
16:42 CEST 225km/18km to go
The pair have another
two km to go before the Waseberg as the peloton has picked up the pace and knocked
a lot off that time gap. Yes, it's now just 23 seconds.
16:43 CEST 226km/17km to go
23 seconds - they're
going to need more than that to survive the Waseberg for the last time. The
peloton is strung right out with Johansen (CSC) in last wheel.
The leaders fly down the narrow,
steep descent with Gilbert in front. They're back along the Elbe now, and are
getting ready for the last time up the Waseberg. But the peloton pulls them
back just before the foot, with Christian Knees (Milram) leading.
16:46 CEST 227km/16km to go
Knees drives the
pace up as they turn left and then reach the foot of the climb. Celestino is
in second wheel, with Dumoulin right there as well as Mori.
attacks... Pozzato is right there on his wheel, with Paolini.
Ballan is first over the top, leading
a group of 12 or so. Paolini is right up there, as is Pozzato.
16:47 CEST 228km/15km to go
The remnants of the
bunch come over the top, and that's their race just about finished.
Rebellin now leads over the top with a teammate on his wheel.
16:49 CEST 229km/14km to go
Rebellin keeps the
pace on and Pozzato drops back. Rebellin leads his teammate and three more off
the front. But they sit up! What the? The Saunier rider up there counter attacks:
it's Manuele Mori.
16:50 CEST 231km/12km to go
Ricco is chased down
by the rest of that group, which has Celestino, Rebellin, Paolini, Figueras?
and one other Gerolsteiner in it. Then the chasers about 10 seconds back, maybe
30 strong. The chasing peloton is not chasing too hard though.
It looks like Moletta is the other
Gerolsteiner rider in front.
The peloton is getting organised,
with Quick.Step and Rabobank leading the chase. They have no-one in front.
16:53 CEST 233km/10km to go
The leaders: Rebellin,
Moletta (Gerolsteiner), Paolini (Liquigas), Celestino (Milram), Figueras (Lampre),
Mori (Saunier). There's one nation that's rather well represented up here.
16:54 CEST 234km/9km to go
Paolini does another
turn and looks back. The chasers are still at 10 seconds. There is a lot of
looking around in this front group. Paolini was second last year, can he go
one better this year?
Moletta powers through for a big
turn, trying to keep Rebellin's chances alive. But it looks like the peloton
is coming back, although a couple of riders are trying to bridge across alone.
16:56 CEST 235km/8km to go
Paolini looks serious
as he rolls through. Celestino is doing a bit now and again, and now it's his
turn. They are working pretty well, but the peloton is 4 seconds behind, led
16:57 CEST 236km/7km to go
Break over. Quick.Step
powers the chase, with Tosatto working. But who have they got to lead out Bettini
16:58 CEST 237km/6km to go
Martin Elmiger (Phonak)
shows himself briefly at the front as Kashechkin (Astana) launches a counter
move. But Oscar Freire is there, marking it. He is a favourite for a bunch sprint,
Tankink gets on the front. then Gerben Löwik, keeping it
together for Freire.
16:59 CEST 237.5km/5.5km to go
A Milram rider
tries to attack next, but doesn't get far. Kashechkin marks him, with the peloton
on his wheel.
16:59 CEST 238km/5km to go
O'Grady has made the
cut, as has Millar, Pozzato, Ballan, Freire, Zabel...Can't be much more than
17:00 CEST 239km/4km to go
There's a lot of Quick.Step
jerseys in front, but Paolo Bettini is in last wheel. Looking extremely relaxed.
Maybe he doesn't have the legs today, or maybe he's waiting.
17:01 CEST 239.5km/3.5km to go
Tankink does a
strong turn and gets a gap, but the peloton won't let him go easily. No dice.
17:01 CEST 240km/3km to go
Now another Milram
has a go, with one of the Astanas reacting. It's Kashechkin again. Nuyens hovers
in fourth wheel.
The Milram rider pulls off and Kashechkin
keeps the tempo up. Nuyens in second wheel, then Mori and O'Grady.
17:03 CEST 241km/2km to go
The thinned down peloton
is heading for a likely bunch sprint as Nuyens and Mori set the tempo. Rabobank
still has Freire as its main option, while Quick.Step has Pozzato and Bettini.
2 km to go in the bike race and Rabobank's
Löwik takes over the tempo making, with a couple of Lampres on his wheel: Figueras
and Ballan. Then it's Quick.Step with Tosatto. Paolini is also up there.
17:04 CEST 242km/1km to go
The bunch motors into
the final kilometre and an Astana rider tries to get a gap. But he doesn't.
Lampre has him pegged.
Ballan leads in the final kilometre
with Figueras right behind him. Pozzato is in fifth, behind Tosatto. Freire
is in 9th with Paolini.
17:05 CEST 243km/0km to go
Tosatto leads out
the sprint with Pozzato on his wheel. There's an incident with Freire and Rebellin(?)
and it's Zabel, Freire and Pozzato powering to the line. Freire gets it by about
a millimetre, and Zabel congratulates him, Pozzato third. That was extremely
Well, Freire is the winner, but it
was not by much. That was a huge sprint by Zabel and he nearly got there. Not
sure what happened between the Gerolsteiner rider - Wegmann - and Freire with
200m to go, but Freire definitely grabbed Wegmann and had the favour returned.
Then Wegmann bounced off a few more riders, but kept it upright. We'll see if
that earns Freire a DQ, but he certainly did well to come back from that and
It looks like Oscarito is the winner
of the Vattenfall Cyclassics, as he is interviewed post-race. Zabel almost pulled
off a great win, while Pozzato defended his 2005 triumph with honour.
And that's all from us here in the blimp above the Elbe. There's still one tank
of hot air left, and we'll be back in a couple of weeks with the Clasica San
1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 5.30.02
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick.Step
4 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step
5 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Wiesenhof Akud
6 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
7 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance
8 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
9 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital