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12th Vattenfall Cyclassics - ProT
Germany, August 19, 2007
By Gregor Brown
The ProTour one-day races continue on Sunday with the running of the Vattenfall Cyclassics. The 12th edition of the German race, previously known as the HEW Cyclassics until the name changed last year, follows on the heels of the Clásica San Sebastián. While neither of these 'young' Fall Classics are as famed as the coming Classics of Paris-Tours or Giro di Lombardia, they both make nice wins for the palmarès -, just ask the winner of the Basque race, Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas).
Organizers are staying true to the format of past years by keeping the big figure eight which takes the riders into the farmlands south of the German industrial city of Hamburg and returns north via the Köhlbrand-Hochbrücke. The second big loop is west of Hamburg and heads back along the Elbe, hitting the start/finish line after 150 kilometres of racing.
The riders take on the 42-kilometre loop three times, and on each lap they'll encounter the famed Waseberg climb. The climb, 600 metres long and touching grades of 19 percent usually breaks the spirit of all but the toughest sprinters. Typically, a small group forms after the final ascent and fights it out at the finish.
Last year it was Oscar 'The Cat' Freire who used his strength and final kick to over-power 2001 winner Erik Zabel and 2005 winner Filippo Pozzato. 'The Cat' will not return this year but both the German and Italian are slated to race and should be considered hot favourites. Zabel recently won a stage in the Deutschland Tour while 'Pippo' showed his class in the Tour de France with the stage to Autun and with the recent win of the Trofeo Matteotti.
They will keep an eye on the 2003 winner Paolo Bettini. 'Il Grillo Livornese' will form a one-two punch with Tom Boonen as Quick.Step continues to push forward in its successful season. The World Champion will likely be giving the leader's responsibility while he builds for a Worlds repeat one month later while 'Tommeke' is coming off a impressive Tour de France.
Nick Nuyens will lead Cofidis as it looks to lift its head from its Tour problems. The Belgian finished fourth in 2006 and can go the distance while keeping a kick for the finish. Gerald Ciolek was fifth last year for his Professional Continental team but this year he has the backing of the mighty magenta of T-Mobile. The German will be coming straight from the Deutschland Tour where he has won two stages.
Bertagnolli will hope for a repeat of his Spanish success as he works with Giro d'Italia champ Danilo Di Luca. Saunier Duval will go in with Great Britain Champ David Millar, Lampre-Fondital with Tour stage winner Daniele Bennati and Team CSC with likely Deutschland Tour winner (race finishes tomorrow - ed.), Jens Voigt.
American Discovery Channel is making its last rounds as a team and nothing will motivate riders more than a search for a new contract. George Hincapie and company will line up to impress in Hamburg. Aussies Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) and Baden Cooke (Unibet.com) will also be riders to keep an eye on.
This Sunday Cyclingnews will be covering the 12th Vattenfall Cyclassics live. Coverage begins around 15:00 local European time (CEST)/ 9:00 (USA East)/ 23:00 Australia (EST) - also on WAP-enabled mobile devices at http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/