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12th Vattenfall Cyclassics - ProT

Germany, August 19, 2007

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown & Susan Westemeyer

Live coverage starts: 15:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST

15:01 CEST   
Hello and thanks for joining Cyclingnews in our coverage of the Hamburg Cyclassics. The ProTour one-day races continue today 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.

15:04 CEST   
Cyclingnews has its Audi back on the road after the short break following the Tour de France. The performance is a lot more reliable than the SEAT we were using in the San Sebastián Classic.

15:05 CEST   
The race got underway on time at 11:10 when 167 riders left from Hamburg under 22°C sunny temperatures and light wind. On the run south a three-man move got away (at 12 kilometres) with Luke Roberts (Team CSC), Gerben Löwik (Rabobank) and Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano) and the three quickly gained a 14-minute advantage.

15:09 CEST   
Going around a right-hand curve, two bikes touched wheels and took five to six riders down, worst off was Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) with suspicion of broken shoulder and ribs.

15:10 CEST    119.1km/110km to go
50 riders from six teams underwent blood screenings before the race, including Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas).

Tim Klinger (Gerolsteiner) and Thomas Ziegler (T-Mobile) are doing much of the lead work in peloton. Milram also near the front. They have cut the lead to 10 minutes and are keeping it steadily there.

15:13 CEST    129.1km/100km to go
The breakaway group's lead stays steady at around 10 minutes with 100 kilometres to go. They are beginning the Waseberg for fist time, narrow roads through the forest, a 15 percent climb that is used three times in this race. It is not long but steep. The rain from this morning and overlapping trees kept the road wet. The three went over it safely.

15:15 CEST   
Zabel leads the peloton up the Waseberg; the German won this race in 2001. There is a mechanical on the climb for Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner), bad place because of high speed and narrow road, and it takes longer for bubbly blue team car to catch up with him, while our Audi has no problems getting by.

15:18 CEST   
2005 World Champion Tom Boonen (Quick.Step Innergetic) is actually first over the line for the fourth place mountain points. The Belgian is in a group of five or six with Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Marcel Sieberg (Milram), Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile)... They gained a small gap but a few others have caught up with them.

This is Sieberg's first race since Tour de France (other than the criteriums).

The Boonen group is reeled in but the group didn't really try to hard.

15:21 CEST   
The peloton heads down the Rieperbahn, Hamburg's notorious red-light district. The riders don't have the time or energy to stop. We might have to flip the Audi car lights on, the dark clouds are gathering and this could mean a continuation of the morning rains.

Leaving Hamburg there will be two more 42-kilometre loops.

15:22 CEST   
Please write in with any comment you have on the race and its potential winners.

15:23 CEST    159.1km/70km to go
There are now 70 kilometres to go for lead group, Tim Klinger (Gerolsteiner) is leading the peloton seven minutes behind.

15:28 CEST    159.1km/70km to go
It looks as if likable Bernhard Eisel (T-Mobile) has missed getting his musette as he passes through the second feed zone for the day. Team-mate Marco Pinotti, 'Pink Pino,' gave him his bag while their other team-mate Marcus Burghardt is sipping on a Coca-cola.

Time to turn down the Elliott Smith in the Audi, the race could soon heat up.

15:30 CEST   
Three Lampre-Fondital riders, including Ronde winner Ballan, are working their way forward through the team autos. We are not sure if it was a mechanical or if they were just going back as a group to take a natural break or grab water bottles.

15:33 CEST    167.1km/62km to go
Three German teams are sharing the lead work in peloton with the occasional Lampre and Quick.Step jersey on the lead. Ah! The sun is out again.

There is now 62 kilometres for the lead group. Its advantage is at 6'55".

15:36 CEST    169.1km/60km to go
Crash! Three riders go down during a left-hand turn; Christian Knees (Milram), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step Innergetic) and Artur Gajek (Wiesenhof-Felt). Knees and Gajek are up and running again but Tankink gets up slowly and he tries to 'walk it off.' Ouch. We are at 60 kilometres remaining.

15:39 CEST    175.1km/54km to go
The Wiesenhof rider was Martin Velits (Wiesenhof-Felt) and not Gajek. The escapees are going up the Waseberg again with a six-minute lead.

Lampre is working for Daniele 'Benna' Bennati, a 2-time Tour de France stage winner.

15:41 CEST    177.1km/52km to go
Over the climb goes Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano), followed by Gerben Löwik (Rabobank) and Luke Roberts (Team CSC).

Lampre is really upping the pace. They are there with Milram as the peloton starts its second ascent of the Waseberg.

15:42 CEST   
Gent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) lifts the pace on the front. A few wheels back is Marzio Bruseghin (Lampre-Fondital).

15:45 CEST   
The recent winners:
2006 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 243.2 kms in 5.30.02 (44.212 km/h)
2005 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step 250.5 kms in 6.00.59 (42 km/h)
2004 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 250.3kms in 5.51.39 (42.71 km/h)
2003 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon 253 kms in 5.58.20 (42.396 km/h)
2002 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 253 kms in 5.43.35 (44.216 km/h)
2001 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 253 kms in 5.59.02 (41.945 km/h)
2000 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 253 kms in 6.17.22 (39.90 km/h)
2001 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Polti 253 kms in 6.20.39 (39.88 km/h)

15:46 CEST    181.1km/48km to go
Lars Bak (Team CSC) flatted but he is now up and going after a quick wheel change.

The peloton is lined out under the power of two Milrams, a Liquigas and two Lampres.

15:49 CEST   
The gap to the front three is crumbling like John Mellencamp might say. It is now under five minutes.

We keep getting caught off guard by David Millar who is riding in his new British Champ jersey. It looks really sharp.

15:52 CEST    185.1km/44km to go
Roberts is leading the front group of three followed by Gerben Löwik (Rabobank) and Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano).

Back in the pack, World Champ Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step Innergetic) is riding next to three-time World Champ and 2006 Hamburg winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank). Oscar the Cat is a true danger man for this race.

Di Luca and the World Champ
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

15:54 CEST   
The news here in Germany is that Max Ullrich was born recently, August 7. Max is the son of Jan, 1997 Tour de France winner. He was born five weeks early but is reported in great health.

Cyclingnews congratulates Jan on his new born son. Max, the winner of the Tour in 2030?

15:56 CEST    188.1km/41km to go
We are back in Hamburg and ready to start the final loop.

15:58 CEST    190.1km/39km to go
The sun is out here as the three leaders come through the start finish led by Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano).

"I will try to do well but the captain will be my friend [and team-mate] Filippo Pozzato," said Danilo Di Luca at the start this morning. 'Pippo' won this race in 2005.

16:01 CEST    192.1km/37km to go
The peloton is ripping through Hamburg under the influence of Milram, T-Mobile and Lampre. It crosses the line at 2'50" behind the (doomed?) three.

16:03 CEST   
Japanese fans will be happy to know that Discovery's 'Fumy' is in the race and looking strong. There is also a strong Japanese representation with the Skil-Shimano team.

Leonardo Bertagnolli (Liquigas) has a rear wheel change. The winner of San Sebastián is going again after being pushed off by the team mechanic.

16:07 CEST    195.1km/34km to go
The race is heading along the river Elbe. The riders are grabbing water bottles the best they can as they speed along with the three men in their death grip.

Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

16:09 CEST    198.1km/31km to go
The Liquigas crew of 'Pippo' Pozzato is about 15 riders back in the chase group. 'Pippo' looks really cool and relaxed, ready to repeat his 2005 win. He is building for the World Championships and he has plans to ride the Vuelta a España during the lead up.

16:14 CEST    200.1km/29km to go
Gerben Löwik (Rabobank) has a head of hair. His brown locks are flowing out the back of his helmet as he sits on the wheel of Luke Roberts (Team CSC).

Whew! The riders in the main group are (closely) dodging around traffic furniture to make their way to the front.

16:14 CEST   
Big Bad Tom Boonen promised he is here for Bettini and, sure enough, the Belgian is powering near the front with Il Grillo Livornese on his rear wheel. Vai Bettini!

16:15 CEST    202.1km/27km to go
The gap is down to 1'25"

16:17 CEST    203.1km/26km to go
We are passing through some nice residential areas here outside of Hamburg. The front three are making their way under the trees that line the road and heading towards the final appointment with the Waseberg. Get ready for the artilleries to fire!

16:21 CEST   
The front group looks to consist of around 35 riders. The numbers go down as the 'weak' are unable to handle the pace and the traffic furniture. The Belgians seem to have the least amount of problems on these types of roads; they race on roads much smaller and more technical in their home country.

Soon, the top runners will be fighting for position before the base of the Waseberg.

16:22 CEST    208.1km/21km to go
Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Prodir) punches the gas and gets a gap.

16:23 CEST   
Rubens, holder of the race lead in the Tour de France a few years back, can see the front three.

16:24 CEST    209.6km/19.5km to go
Gerben Löwik (Rabobank), at 1.90m, finds it hard to keep the pace along with Luke Roberts (Team CSC) and Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano) and will soon be caught. The gap is only 15".

16:25 CEST   
Big crash that includes Boonen.

16:26 CEST    210.1km/19km to go
It happened towards the rear of the pack. Boonen is looking at his right (big) thigh. There were about six other riders who went down. Boonen is in pain.

16:28 CEST    211.8km/17.3km to go
Liquigas is hammering on the front. There is no way to wait for the riders who crashed because the race is ON. Pippo has his game face, he looks very serious. The front three have been caught.

Boonen is still on the ground. There is a Predictor rider with him, but standing.

16:29 CEST    212.7km/16.4km to go
Boonen is now up, but then has to sit back down! There is also a Liquigas rider there.

David Millar is about third wheel in the front. He has yellow shorts with his new white top. The Waseberg starts.

16:29 CEST   
Millar hits the front on the climb. Team-mate Mori is there too.

16:31 CEST    213.6km/15.5km to go
German Champ Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) hits the gas hard. Pippo is there with him. Head to head over the top.

It was Wegmann and Pozzato over the top first, and then a gap to Millar.

Zabel and Riccò are there too.

16:32 CEST    214.3km/14.8km to go
Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) leads with Millar, Bettini, Daniele Bennati (Lampre-Fondital) and Danilo Napolitano (Lampre-Fondital). There are about ten in this group.

16:34 CEST   
Millar Time! The Scot is doing a lot of the work here on this, now, completely flat run home. The Gerolsteiner riders is doing a lot of gesturing for the others to work.

16:35 CEST    216.1km/13km to go
William Bonnet (Crédit Agricole) hits the gas. He is followed by Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner). Now the D-Tour winner, Jens Voigt (Team CSC), counters. He has yellow bar tape on his Cervélo bike.

16:36 CEST    217.1km/12km to go
Sébastien Rosseler (Quick.Step Innergetic) digs deep to try to form a smaller group for Bettini.

16:37 CEST    221.1km/8km to go
Ronde winner Ballan is in here too. But the group as really swelled.

16:38 CEST    220.1km/9km to go
Voigt is there again. There are five in this new group. Wegmann, Riccò, Bettini, a Caisse rider and a FDJ rider.

16:40 CEST   
Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne), Jussi Veikkanen (Française Des Jeux), Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step Innergetic), Jens Voigt (Team CSC) and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) are our six leaders.

16:40 CEST    222.1km/7km to go
Bettini does a pull but the group is being caught.

16:40 CEST    222.6km/6.5km to go
Aussie Simon Gerrans (Ag2r Prévoyance) has a go with a Disco rider, Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel).

16:42 CEST    223.6km/5.5km to go
The duo's move looks doomed. Gerrans keeps pumping it on the front. The Aussie is a super-nice guy.

16:42 CEST    224.1km/5km to go
There is a build up of Magenta in the back ground. But keep an eye out on Pippo Pozzato and Paolo Bettini.

16:42 CEST   
Lampre is working too.

16:44 CEST    225.3km/3.8km to go
Rabobank is there for Freire. Lampre has Bennati and Napolitano for the sprint. Remember two years ago Quick.step's success with Paolini and Pozzato?

Gusev and Gerrans are still on the front at six seconds.

16:45 CEST   
William Walker (Rabobank) is doing a lot of work for the five Rabobanks on the front.

16:45 CEST    226.8km/2.3km to go
Gusev is trying to make the move work, but...

16:46 CEST    227.1km/2km to go
Big crash for a Lampre rider and others.

16:47 CEST    227.9km/1.2km to go
Claudio Corioni (Lampre-Fondital) went down. There is a Crédit Agricole rider there too.

Flecha is driving it on the front.

16:47 CEST   
Two Rabobanks lead.

16:47 CEST   
A Lampre rider tries from long. It is Ballan.

16:48 CEST   
The winner of Ronde is digging hard.

16:48 CEST   
BRAVISSIMO!!!!!!! Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) held on to win his second major ProTour race this year!

16:49 CEST   
Freire second.

16:53 CEST   
Ballan seemed to go off the front through a right semi-curve at -500m by accident, looking back, noticing his gap, and then charging. He went from the right and then jammed it hard down the left side of the road into Hamburg. He was looking back the whole time to see his gap.

Ballan looked over his right shoulder at the last moment to see Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile) charging. The German could not catch him, finishing third, while 2006 winner, Freire, snuck up on Ballan's left for second.

17:04 CEST   
Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) was involved in that crash at two kilometres to go and it ruined his chances of contesting the sprint.

Thanks for joining Cyclingnews today. Please check back for a full report and results.

Provisional results

1 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
2 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
3 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) T-Mobile
4 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
5 Erik Zabel (Ger) Milram
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
7 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step Innergetic
8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Predictor-Lotto 
9 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner