By Jeff Jones
The major one day classics resume after the mid-year tours with the German Vattenfall Cyclassics, the race formerly known as the HEW Cyclassics. The name change came about after Vattenfall bought out energy company HEW, but the venue and course in Hamburg remain essentially the same. The race starts with a big figure eight, taking the riders into the farmlands south of the big German industrial city, returning via the Köhlbrand-Hochbrücke, then in another loop west and back along the Elbe, hitting the start/finish line for the first time after 150 km. Then it's back out on the 42 km westward loop two more times, with the second lap containing an additional climb, before the finish on the Mönckebergstrasse after a total of 243 km. The main feature of the finishing circuit is the Waseberg climb, a 600m, 15% leg-snapper that usually creates gaps in the peloton after four ascents. Typically, a medium sized group forms after the climb and fights it out at the finish.
The defending champ in the Cyclassics is Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step), who narrowly beat his teammate Luca Paolini to win last year's race. He wears the number one dossard this year, and has classics specialist and 2003 winner Paolo Bettini as a co-leader. Tour stage winner Matteo Tosatto, domestiques Bram Tankink, Kevin Hulsmans, Kevin Van Impe, sprinter Wouter Weylandt and stealth attacker Nick Nuyens complete the line-up.
Speaking of attacking riders, Alexandre Vinokourov is back in business with his new Astana team, which missed the Tour de France due to five of its riders being implicated in the Operacion Puerto affair. Some of those have been cleared by the courts, but are still considered "under investigation" by the UCI and are not racing in Hamburg. Vino can count on the support of compatriots Andrey Kashechkin, Assan Bazayev and Serguei Yakovlev, as well as four very fresh Spanish riders.
Cyclingnews will be covering the Vattenfall Cyclassics live on Sunday, July 30, starting from 15:00 local time (CEST)/9:00 EDT (USA East)/6:00 PDT (USA West)/23:00 AEST (Aust East).