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13th Vattenfall Cyclassics - ProT

Germany, September 7, 2008


One for the sprinters?

By Susan Westemeyer

Gerald Ciolek is looking for another great win this season
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
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The Vattenfalls Cyclassics is traditionally one for the sprinters, and this year looks to be no exception. The race is being held nearly a month later than usual, due to the Olympics, but as usual, it is following directly on the heels of the Deutschland Tour. A large number of riders will transfer directly from the last stage in Bremen to Hamburg to take on the ProTour one-day race.

Because of the September date, the race overlaps with the Vuelta a España and many recent Hamburg winners are in Spain. Erik Zabel, Filippo Pozzato, Oscar Freire and Paolo Bettini will all be missing, as will last year's winner, Alessandro Ballan. However, this merely opens things up to what race organisers call a "generation change".

Team Columbia sprinter Gerald Ciolek, fresh from a strong Deutschland Tour, will look to take his first ProTour one-day win, and his team-mate Linus Gerdemann has to be considered another top favourite. Rabobank's Graeme Brown will expect to be in at a sprint finish, as will Lotto's Robbie McEwen. Caisse d'Epargne is sending a strong team, including Vladimir Karpets, José Rujano, Luis León Sánchez and Rigoberto Uran.

CSC may have the best chances to wrest the win out of German hands, sending Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt. It would be a mistake to count either of them out.

The 2008 version of the race features a slightly different course. It has been reduced to 213.7km long, and starts with the usual 90km long loop to the south and back, after the neutralised start through the city of Hamburg. This is followed by a 60km loop westwards, which ends with three laps of a 12km circuit, each lap of which includes the day's climb.

This is the flattest part of Germany, so the climb is the Waseberg, one of "the seven hills of Hamburg". It is a very short climb, only 700 meters, but boasts an average gradient of 10%, with the steepest sections up to 15%. The last time up the Waseberg is only 15km before the finish, so it may be too much for the sprinters – or just right for a strong climbing sprinter like Ciolek.