Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has taken a very tight sprint ahead of Erik Zabel (Milram) and defending champ Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) to win the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg. The race finished with approximately 40 riders left in the lead group, with Quick.Step, Rabobank and Lampre all working to ensure that it was decided in a bunch sprint. Freire and Zabel were neck and neck until just before the line, when Freire managed to get his wheel in front for the victory.
"This is another important win for me, especially as it's a classic," said Freire. "I was behind Zabel, and passed him in the right moment. But we were all equally strong and in the end, only throwing our bikes to the line in the last three metres counted for the victory. Zabel told me that I had won, but I wasn't too sure and wanted to see the photo finish."
The race was held in perfect conditions and saw a three man break get away after 40 km: Dario Andriotto (Liquigas), Corey Sweet (Wiesenhof) and Laszlo Bodrogi (Credit Agricole). The group gained as much as 13 minutes, but was brought back to 9 minutes by the halfway point, when Andriotto crashed out of the race after hitting a TV camera moto. The peloton swept up the remaining two leaders with 60 km left, and the finale began. Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) attacked at 30 km to go, just before the penultimate climb of the Waseberg, and was joined by Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) over the top. The two managed almost a minute's lead, but were brought back before the last climb with 18 km to go.
The final ascent of the Waseberg saw Rebellin, Moletta (Gerolsteiner), Paolini (Liquigas), Celestino (Milram), Figueras (Lampre), and Mori (Saunier) get a gap, but they couldn't hold off the peloton's chase, and it was all together with 7 km to go. After that, the teams with sprinters still left in the race kept the pace high enough for a bunch sprint, with Freire edging out Zabel and Pozzato for the win.
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