By Susan Westemeyer
The Vattenfall Cyclassics is traditionally one for the sprinters, and this year looks to be no exception. The race is being held nearly a month later than usual, due to the Olympics, but as usual, it is following directly on the heels of the Deutschland Tour. A large number of riders will transfer directly from the last stage in Bremen to Hamburg to take on the ProTour one-day race.
Because of the September date, the race overlaps with the Vuelta a España and many recent Hamburg winners are in Spain. Erik Zabel, Filippo Pozzato, Oscar Freire and Paolo Bettini will all be missing, as will last year's winner, Alessandro Ballan. However, this merely opens things up to what race organisers call a "generation change".
Team Columbia sprinter Gerald Ciolek, fresh from a strong Deutschland Tour, will look to take his first ProTour one-day win, and his team-mate Linus Gerdemann has to be considered another top favourite. Rabobank's Graeme Brown will expect to be in at a sprint finish, as will Lotto's Robbie McEwen. Caisse d'Epargne is sending a strong team, including Vladimir Karpets, José Rujano, Luis León Sánchez and Rigoberto Uran.
CSC may have the best chances to wrest the win out of German hands, sending Fabian Cancellara and Jens Voigt. It would be a mistake to count either of them out.
Cyclingnews will be covering the Hamburg Cyclassics live next Sunday. Please click here to read the full preview.