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13th Vattenfall Cyclassics - ProT

Germany, September 7, 2008

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer

13:56 CEST    Hello and welcome to Hamburg, Germany, for the Vattenfall Cyclassics. This flat race over 213.7km is usually one for the sprinters, so let's see what it has to offer us today. We are floating over things in the Cyclingnews blimp, enjoying a sunny late summer day with 20° Celsius temperatures.

13:59 CEST    We have a 20-rider strong escape group, which formed early and had up to a three and half minute lead. The biggest names in the group are Jens Voigt (CSC-Saxo Bank) and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner). The lead is now down to just under two minutes.

14:03 CEST    Here is the whole run-down on that group: Marco Bandera (Lampre), Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Bert Grabsch (Columbia), David Lopez Garia (Caisse d'Epargne), Jens Voigt (CSC), Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel), Maciej Bodnar and Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas), Thomas Fothen and Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Tom Stubbe (Francaise des Jeux), Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step), Jonathan Hivert and Ignatas Konovalovas (Credit Agricole), Julien Belgy and Giovanni Bernadeau (Bouygues Telecom), Alexandre Blain (Cofidis), Ralf Grabsch (Milram), David Deroo (Skil-Shimano) and Rene Weissinger of Volksbank-Corratec. The lead has now dropped to 1.45 minutes.

14:06 CEST    134.7km/79km to go There was good news today for three Gerolsteiner riders. Team Milram told us this morning that Fabian Wegmann and the brothers Markus and Thomas Fothen will be wearing the Milram blue jerseys the coming season. There they will meet Gerolsteiner team-mates Johannes Fröhlinger and Matthia Russ, who earlier signed with what will be 2008's only German ProTour team. Also joining them as Directeur Sportif will be Christian Henn.

14:08 CEST    They grind their way up the Waseberg for the first time, a short but steep climb. Looks like Voigt took the points.

14:11 CEST    A lot of people think of the Alps when they think of Germany, but those are in the south, and we are today up in the north, where it is just as flat as it can be. The "mountain ranking" today is the Waseberg, one of the seven hills of Hamburg, which is a whopping 87 meters above sea level. To be fair, it has a 15% maximum gradient.

14:11 CEST    136.7km/77km to go The gap has now dropped to one minute.

14:14 CEST    Team Silence-Lotto is not having a good day. They started with only seven riders and have already lost two. Johan van Summeren dropped out early, and Dario David Cioni crashed out, apparently hitting a traffic island.

14:19 CEST    Hamburg is Germany's second largest city, with a population of about 1.8 million. And yes, the people who live here are really called Hamburgers.

14:23 CEST    146.7km/67km to go The gap has dropped again, down to 1.40 minutes.

14:27 CEST    The city's full name is "Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg", which translates as Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

14:29 CEST    150.7km/63km to go The escape group goes over the finish line for the first time. How far back is the main field?

14:30 CEST    Marcel Sieberg of Team Columbia leads the field over the line 1.49 minutes back.

14:34 CEST    This race has only been run since 1996, and has featured a different winner every single year. Here's the rundown:

2007 - Alessandro Ballan
2006 - Óscar Freire
2005 - Filippo Pozzato
2004 - Stuart O'Grady
2003 - Paolo Bettini
2002 - Johan Museeuw
2001 - Erik Zabel 2000 - Gabriele Missaglia
1999 - Mirko Celestino
1998 - Léon van Bon
1997 - Jan Ullrich 1996 - Rossano Brasi

There will be another new first-time winner again this year, since none of the previous winners is here today.

14:38 CEST    Hamburg is the second-largest port in Europe and the ninth-largest in the world. What makes that remarkable is that it is not on the German coast, but lies 100km inland, on the Elbe River.

14:44 CEST    The race is usually one for the sprinters. It came to a mass sprint last year, when the field caught two escapees with 1.5km to go. The winner was Alessandro Ballan, who isn't here this year. Today he is busy in the Vuelta a España, defending the leader's golden jersey which he won yesterday.

14:47 CEST    163.7km/50km to go Only 50km to go, and the lead is now 1.35 minutes. There's just not a lot happening here....

14:51 CEST    The first permanent building in Hamburg was a castle ordered to be built by Emperor Charlemagne in 808. The city has very few skyscrapers, but it can boast the St. Nikolai's church, which was the world tallest building in the 19th century.

14:53 CEST    168.7km/45km to go The lead has now dropped to exactly one minute. Astana and Columbia are sharing the lead work.

14:55 CEST    170.7km/43km to go Quick Step has moved up near the front of the chasing pack. They are riding for sprinter Gert Steegmans. Rabobank makes an appearance, too, for Graeme Brown.

15:01 CEST    Oscar Freire won here in 2006, just pipping Erik Zabel and Filippo Pozzato at the line in a bunch sprint. Pozzato had won in Hamburg in 2005, in another mass sprint. In 2004, the win went to Stuart O'Grady in – you guessed it – another bunch sprint.

15:09 CEST    The top favourite today, at least here in Germany, is Columbia's Gerald Ciolek. He hasn't had his best season ever, but just won a difficult stage in the Deutschland Tour. The 21 year-old skipped the D-Tour's closing time trial yesterday to rest up a little for today. He finished a close third here last year.

15:10 CEST    We apologize for the lack of updates but are once again having difficulties getting information.

15:17 CEST    If you look at the line-ups for today and compare them to those from the Deutschland Tour, you will see a lot of similiarities. And that is one reason why the D-Tour always ends in northern Germany the day before this race.

15:22 CEST    174.7km/39km to go Wegmann leads the escapees up the Waseberg for the second time. Two more times to go.

15:23 CEST    Marcus Burghardt (Columbia) heads the chase group as it now goes up the 15% climb.

15:25 CEST    175.7km/38km to go The lead group has been exploded, as Wegmann and Lopez Garcia take off.

15:27 CEST    About eight riders are in the lead now, including Wegmann, but the rest aren't far behind. The peloton can't be too far back, either, but unfortunately we don't have a time on the gap.

15:29 CEST    178.7km/35km to go Linus Gerdemann leads the chase group. Looks like he is not captain today but putting himself in the service of Ciolek.

15:30 CEST    179.7km/34km to go The field has caught the part of the escape group which fell off, and is now only 49 seconds behind the 10 or so riders in front. Columbia continues to lead the chase.

15:31 CEST    180.7km/33km to go Wegmann stays at the front of the break group and keeps trying to push up the speed He knows that their lead isn't enough at this point.

15:35 CEST    183.7km/30km to go There are five riders now in the lead, including Bert Grabsch, Wegmann, Lopez Garcia, Isasi, Leezer and a Liquigas rider whose number we can't make out.

15:37 CEST    It's time for the Waseberg again. The escapees (who now number seven) go through a beautiful forest.

15:38 CEST    185.7km/28km to go Voigt is not only out of the lead group, he is falling off the back all together. It has been a long, long season for the 38 year-old.

15:39 CEST    Wegmann looks around to see if anyone is coming up from behind. He is trying to decide whether he should try to attack again or not.

15:40 CEST    And what Wegmann saw was the peloton only meters behind him. The German champion Wegmann leads the way over the line, with a slight lead.

15:41 CEST    187.7km/26km to go Hivert, Wegmann and Leezer now have a small lead over the field.

15:42 CEST    As we mentioned, Wegmann will ride for Milram next year. It is also rumoured that Gerald Ciolek and Linus Gerdemann may be leaving Team Columbia in order to join Milram. Milram has said that it wants as many German riders as possible, and those are certainly two of the best.

15:43 CEST    A handful of riders have gotten away from the field and joined the Wegmann group.

15:44 CEST    189.7km/24km to go There is only a 12 second gap now.

15:46 CEST    191.7km/22km to go The peloton is strung out single file as it takes aim on the escape group.

15:47 CEST    A Quick Step and a Liquigas rider now have a small lead, all the others have been caught.

15:47 CEST    It is Carlstrom and Visconti but they are really only a few seconds ahead.

15:48 CEST    192.7km/21km to go A Caisse d'Epargne rider is the next to attack, as Gerdemann falls off the back of the field.

15:49 CEST    Visconti takes off alone, ahead of Carlstrom, who has been joined by the Caisse d'Epargne rider. The peloton is not at all far away.

15:50 CEST    194.7km/19km to go Visconti is opening a decent lead now.

15:52 CEST    Liquigas has taken over the head of the peloton. Visconti leads and there are three other riders in between: Luis Leon Sanchez, Lars Bak and Christophe Mengin.

15:53 CEST    196.7km/17km to go Visconti takes a 10 second lead with him as he heads up the Waseberg for the last time.

15:55 CEST    198.7km/15km to go Everyone is all together again, with Liquigas leading the way.

15:56 CEST    Two Liquigas riders are first up the Waseberg, followed by Wegmann. They have a slight lead over the field. The two in green are Pellizotti and Bertagnolli.

15:57 CEST    200.7km/13km to go The trio now wends its way through the city towards the finish line.

15:58 CEST    The peloton looks rather unorganized right now. If it wants to catch those three, it had better get its act together!

16:01 CEST    202.7km/11km to go A Quick Step rider is at the head of the field, with Milram's Christian Knees behind him.

16:01 CEST    Only nine seconds lead now for the three in front. The field is falling apart though, with groups of riders trying to catch the leaders.

16:02 CEST    203.7km/10km to go Two Quick Steps and one from Skil now have a slight lead over the field, shortly behind the three leaders.

16:02 CEST    And we now have six in front.

16:03 CEST    204.7km/9km to go It really can't be long until the field catches the leaders. They have a very minimal lead.

16:05 CEST    205.7km/8km to go The group has been caught.

16:06 CEST    206.7km/7km to go Lots of new attacks now. Karpets goes on one side, and a Quick Step rider on the left. All together again quickly though.

16:07 CEST    Gerald Ciolek is near the front of the group, but he appears to be alone, without team-mates.

16:08 CEST    207.7km/6km to go A Caisse de'Epargne attacks again and the others all look around and wait for each other to follow – hey guys, that is not a recipe for success!

16:08 CEST    It is Rigoberto Uran, who now has a small lead.

16:09 CEST    209.7km/4km to go He has a nice lead of 100 meters or so, but there is a huge pack behind him.

16:10 CEST    Uran seems to be pulling away on the wide city street.

16:12 CEST    211.7km/2km to go Nine seconds for the South American now.

16:13 CEST    211.7km/2km to go The field is only about 30-40 riders strong now. Will they catch Uran?

16:13 CEST    Quick Step has set up its sprint train as they catch Uran. McEwen in third place, followed by Alan Davis.

16:14 CEST    Looks like we will have our expected mass sprint!

16:15 CEST    Liquigas blasts to the lead, but McEwen jumps out and wins ahead of Mark Renshaw and Alan Davis.

16:15 CEST    That gives us an all-Australian podium! And it is McEwen's first win in a one-day classic.

16:16 CEST    Time for us to bring the blimp down. Thanks for joining us, and be sure to go over and check out the Vuelta live report.