Tony Martin returns to racing on home soil for the 20th edition of the Vattenfall Cyclassics, his first race since breaking his collarbone while wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Etixx-Quick Step will be looking for a good result with one of the strongest squads at the race, including Mark Cavendish, Mark Renshaw and Tom Boonen all participating.
"I'm really happy to start my comeback with a race in my home country," Martin said of his return to competition. "There is not a lot of races in Germany, so to participate in one is really nice. I've only participated in this race one time before, and it was in 2008, so it was a while ago. I have recovered from my injury, so I am ready to build up for the last part of my season."
The Vattenfall Cyclassics, Germany's sole WorldTour event, will take place in the city of Hamburg with many of the top sprinters ready to compete. While the finale is expected to end in a bunch sprint, the parcours include several climbs the riders must overcome prior to the finishing stretch.
Should the race come back together before the finale, the Belgian squad will look to winning duo Cavendish and lead-out man Renshaw to ward off Marcel Kittel and Giant-Alpecin for a win. Boonen will also be a strong contender following a stage win at the Eneco Tour last week.
The match-up between Kittel and Cavendish will be the first of the season due to the German missing the Tour de France because of illness. Cavendish, meanwhile, has recently shifted his focus back to the track, racing with Bradley Wiggins and the British team in with hopes of earning an Olympic return in Rio next summer. The Manxman will likely be the favourite for the win despite a busy schedule, already having raced several track events with another scheduled for later this month.
"We have a competitive team at the start able to get into the actions in the final," sport director Brian Holm said of the race. "Julian Alaphilippe, for example, is coming off a top 10 overall finish at the Eneco Tour, and he will be at the start. Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen will also participate and can be a factor in case of a bunch arrival. We have a strong team that is ready to be a protagonist and go for a good result."
Martin will be looking to build his form heading into the final couple of months left in the season.
"I have to be realistic," Martin said. "This is my first race after a few weeks off. I am going there to support the team and focus on building my condition. Then after my race I will race Poitou Charentes. It's a race I've never done before, so I'm curious about how it is. My teammates told me that it's a good race to get into the rhythm and there is also a time trial where I can see where I am. I also know it is a nice, well-organised race. I'm excited to discover this race myself and have a nice block of competition going into the next appointments."
Following Sunday's classic, the team will shift focus to the 2.1 Tour du Poitou Charentes beginning on August 25. Te five-day stage race will be Martin's next competition.