HTC-Columbia sprinter Andre Greipel has signaled his intentions to end Germany’s long wait for victory in the Vattenfall Cyclassics this Sunday.
At just over 200km long, and with a series of short climbs that most of the peloton should coast over, Germany’s biggest one-day race is regarded as among the most manageable of the season.
Yet although on paper that widens the field’s scope for victory, the Cyclassics is no stroll in the park — and has often been settled by a hard-fought sprint finish.
Last year Tyler Farrar held off Matti Breschel and Gerald Ciolek at the line to became the first American to win in Hamburg, with Greipel finishing down in 30th place.
However, Greipel comes into the race on the back of stage victories in the Tour of Poland.
“I’m hopeful of doing well in this race. I want to perform well on home soil,” said Greipel, who is not the only German eyeing the chance to become the first local since Erik Zabel in 2001 to succeed.
Ciolek became Germany’s youngest-ever elite national champion at just 18 years old, and despite a third place in the Cyclassics in both 2007 and 2009 the 23-year-old has had an underwhelming season so far.
Ciolek’s Milram team will fold at the end of the year, meaning Germany will soon be without a ProTour team in the peloton. That is reason enough for Ciolek and teammates like Fabian Wegmann to try and showcase their talents.
Milram sports director Ralf Grabsch said: “We will be at the start with a strong squad on Sunday, so we want to play an important role in the race, especially in front of a German audience. And that’s what we’ll fight for.”
The only real difficulty on the 216km course, which starts and ends in Hamburg, is the short, steep Waseberg climb. It is tackled four times in total, the last being 16km from the finish, giving the sprinters’ teams enough time to hit the overdrive button and reel in any ambitious breakaway riders.
Farrar comes into the race desperate to put a silver lining on a summer campaign compromised by a crash, and subsequent abandon through injury, in the Tour de France.
However, the Garmin-Slipstream speedster will face in Greipel an adversary determined to shine on home soil.
The powerfully built German has been kept out of the Tour de France for the past two years by his team, due to the continuing stage success of British teammate Mark Cavendish.
And while that has led Greipel to quit HTC-Columbia and sign with Omega-Pharma for next season, he has been consistently successful, racking up a total of 16 wins so far this season.