• Rúben Silva

EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg Preview

As the last Grand Tour of the season unrolls, back in Germany those who are looking to get up to speed again after the Tour, and those looking to get a result in the World Tour will be in Germany. Well, the climbers and such on the Tour of Germany mostly, but in Hamburg alone this Sunday the sprinter elite will be present and they are looking for glory. In it's 24th edition, the race is reputated for having the world's best sprinters fight for and taking the wins, will this year be the exception?

The Route

The route this year is a bit harder than the classic, there's an extra climb of the Waseberg and it comes in the vital part of the race which opens the race up a bit more and should make it a more interesting race. There definetely is a trend of making the races for the sprinters harder, but it's all a matter of adaptation so the sprinters have to have had a better preparation for this race as, although guided for the sprinters, it has quite some dificulties. It is also 224 kilometers long this year, longer than usual and features around 2400 meters of climbing.

The main feature of the race is the Waseberg, only 600 meters long so it's a short effort, but despite the 9% average gradient the last 200 meters are at 16%, it's an ideal place to blow up the race but only if the moves keep full gas after the summit can the climb actually make real damage. It's summits come with 82, 70, 29 and 16 kilometers to go.

The roads towards the Hamburg city center aren't very wide, but they are enough to put on an organized chase if it is needed. With 16Km to go there's time to chase, the climbs are short so even if some domestiques are left behind they can get back to the front in time, and then the race situation will dictate what follows.

As for the finishing kilometers they're quite open, non-technical, they shouldn't dictate a dangerous finish but an opportunity for the sprinters to show what they're made of, it's possible to shut down attacks and it's very hard to escape a flying peloton at this point.

The Weather

Quite hot, almost 30 degrees which can play a small part in the fatigue throughout the day, but as for the wind it's coming from the east, will be of a weak force but the gusts can get up to 30Km/h, which in case is felt will come as a headwind after the Waseberg all the way to the finish.

The Sprinters

Leading the sprinters list is, wait I can't really say that can't I? There's a big big list of riders that could win the race and be no surprise whatsoever so where to start from? Ok the winner of the past two editions Elia Viviani, who will be racing with his new European champion equipment, he's been having a strong season despite not having the best of runs in the Grand Tours, he seems more suited for this type of race at this point and he's coming with a strong leadout including Morkov and Lampaert who are part of his premier leadout, but also Sabatini, Sénéchal, Honoré and Vakoc, a spotless team. His rivals, it's solid to start with Bora who are having Pascal Ackermann and Peter Sagan, the duo can be of a leadout to each other but also have some strategical play as Sagan should be suited for the sharp hills and could be part of an important move. The Jumbo-Visma premier duo will also be present, Dylan Groenewegen leading a strong team of riders suited for the classics type of racing and having Mike Teunissen doesn't only bring an alternative as the Dutch isn't exactly a good climber, but Teunissen is strong enough to also be part of moves seeing there are no real Ardennes specialists here in their peak. And the other deluxe sprinter present is Caleb Ewan, although in RideLondon he looked very far from his usual self, in normal conditions he would be able to ride through these hills as well, or even better than most sprinters so he must be taken into acount.

There are lots of alternatives still, the second tier sprinters in the race are of a very high level, there's the duo of Alexander Kristoff and Jasper Philipsen coming in great form, Kristoff won the race back in 2014 and has been on the Top5 another 6 (!) times, but despite that wether he will lead or give the young Belgian a well deserved freedom is to be seen. There is Matteo Trentin, very suited for this hard and agressive type of racing but perhaps he is too agressive sometimes, but if he plays his cards well he can be one to fight for the win, Arnaud Démare, another past winner of the race back in 2012 when he was a neo-pro, and since I'm talking about past winners I should also include Andre Greipel in the list, although he is not the same rider as when he won it.

There's Sonny Colbrelli who is a rider that in normal circumstances would be a big favourite for this race but his sprinting is far from those in the top level, he has Ivan Garcia Cortina with him though which can make for a much better tactical aproach though, there's Giacomo Nizzolo who recently won in Burgos and is coming with great legs into the race and should be a solid outsider, Cees Bol and Jakub Mareczko are part of the list of riders who should be hoping for an easier race, Sacha Modolo is another outsider to look out for although he needs better legs than in BinckBank, and finally I close up with INEOS who have an interesting trio, Kristofer Halvorsen who is more of a pure sprinter but Chris Lawless and Ben Swift who are good alternatives.

And the Puncheurs?

But the puncheurs are maybe an even more interesting part of the race, they pretty much dictate the dynamics of the race as these are the riders that try to attack and disturb the race's usual finale, however this year it's harder with a more complicated finish so there's a little brighter beam of light.

There's lots of riders who will try to have their digs but some of the main include Marc Hirschi and Simon Clarke, who should be their team's main bets as besides Modolo in EF they have very little chances of success in another way, there's the Astana duo of Davide Ballerini and Magnus Cort Nielsen who have a strong end but need hard races or short groups to be able to succeed, I would expect something from Trek aswell having Mads Pedersen and Toms Skujins who give some expectations of a hard race to come.

There's Nils Pollit who not exactly in the climbs but he's an agressive riders that would by normal terms be trying to fit in moves after the summit and is one of the biggest engines out there, Michal Kwiatkowski who was in fairly low form in the Tour but in case he's come to form is a possibility, and finally the Movistar duo of Eduard Prades and may Carlos Betancur too will want to have a dig in the Waseberg.

Prediction Time

Viviani, Ackermann, Groenewegen

Sagan, Kristoff, Ewan

Démare, Trentin, Nizzolo, Teunissen, Philipsen, Colbrelli, Hirschi, Pollit

I'm going with a win from the nation's best sprinter taking a home win. Ackermann has already established himself as one of the best sprinters in the peloton and with the support of a strong team and likely even Sagan, I see him take a win that would be the Germans' dream.

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