By Susan Westemeyer
Robbie McEwen showed that he can still take a sprint after a hard race, winning the Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg, Germany. The Silence-Lotto rider stood atop an all-Australian podium, with Credit Agricole's Mark Renshaw and Allan Davis of Quick Step finishing behind him in the mass sprint after 213.7 km.
"I had looked at the list of previous winners, and I am proud that my name will be added to it," McEwen said. "That was a perfect course today. It gave everybody a chance, even the sprinters. I nearly died twice on the Waseberg, but only nearly. That was the hardest part, but I felt better every time we went over it."
McEwen had earlier ridden the Deutschland Tour and had dropped out of it after the sixth stage. "The rest days after my early out from the D-Tour were good for me,' the 36 year-old said. "That meant I had the necessary freshness. Naturally the shortening of the course from 260 to 213 km was good for me. But everyone always rides aggressively here and that makes the race hard."
The Australian is leaving Silence-Lotto for the new Russian Team Katusha. This was only his fourth win of the season. He won a stage in the Tour de Romandie and two stages in the Tour de Suisse.
A large group got away early in the race and built up a lead of four minutes, but the peloton didn't let them get any further away. The were caught on the third of four ascents up the Waseberg.
Attack followed attack, and the ever-shrinking peloton hunted all the break riders. Team Columbia had led the field much of the early part of the race, but by the end, Gerald Ciolek was on his own.
Giovanni Visconti of Quick Step attacked with 20 km to go, but was caught on the final Waseberg climb. Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) was ceaseless in his efforts and took off with Leonardo Bertagnolli and Franco Pellizotti (Liquigas), but they could not stay away either. Rigoberto Uran of Caisse d'Epargne was the last to get away, but he, too, was inevitably reeled back in during the set up of the mass sprint.
Quick Step led the way, but McEwen powered his way forward to take the win.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Vattenfall Cyclassics.