Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) and Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) have dominated the five-day long 3-Länder Tour, a stage race in Germany that goes through three states. This race used to be the Hessen-Rundfahrt. Both Dekker and Burghardt each won two stages. The Dutchman took the time trial victory and secured himself the overall win by being part of the lucky-six break on stage two. That break came to the finish over 11 minutes ahead of the peloton and reduced the number of potential overall winners to a half dozen.
But the race wasn't over for Dekker there, as Jens Voigt, who never gives up, and Frank Schleck were in the break also. Luckily for Rabobank Michael Boogerd had also made the cut, giving them more options than their four other opponents for the final stages. Dekker showed that his good form in the Eneco Tour was no fluke and his disappointing performance in the final time trial was only due to the problems he had following the crash on stage six that also spelled the end of the race for then-leader Nick Nuyens.
Dekker will not ride the time trial, a decision he already took in late August. With this win it showed that the Dutch team had lost a very good podium candidate for the Worlds, but Dekkers health goes first, of course.
As for Burghardt, whose biggest win is Gent-Wevelgem to date, he is in great shape and ready for the Worlds in his home country. Burghardt will only be there for his captain, which will be either Erik Zabel or Stefan Schumacher, depending on who you ask. He has no ambition of his own, but a domestique like Burghardt can make the difference in the end of such a tough race. And getting a German to win the Worlds at home would of course be great for the hosts.