Kristoff wins fourth straight Eschborn-Frankfurt

Matthews second, Naesen third

European champion Alexander Kristoff muscled his way to a repeat victory in the Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt on Tuesday. The UAE Team Emirates rider out-paced Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) in the sprint finish. 

Kristoff benefitted from a premature effort by Quick-Step Floors' Fernando Gaviria, who appeared to misjudge the final turn.

"I was lucky because Gaviria went wrong in the last corner," Kristoff said. "He had a small gap so it would have been hard to close. Luck was on my side and in the end, I managed to take it so I'm really happy."

The Eschborn-Frankfurt was given a makeover for its 2018 edition, with a hillier route designed to give the non-sprinters more of a chance of victory.

The remaining riders from a breakaway that went clear on the penultimate climb were only reeled in with 3km to go, and the strain of the 211km race showed on Kristoff's face as the peloton worked to bring the leaders back.

"I did not really feel strong," Kristoff admitted. "On the second lap I was dropped, but luckily I managed to recover and got better. The last two times I felt better and managed to stay in the group."

It's Kristoff's fourth straight victory in the race.

How it unfolded

Beautiful sunshine greeted the riders as they headed out of Eschborn for 211km of racing. The first point of interest came in Bad Homburg with a sprint after 31km before the race headed into the hills. The first climb, the Feldberg (12.6km, averaging 4.7 per cent) came 52km into the race.

The day's early breakaway included Aleksejs Saramotins (Bora-Hansgrohe), Floris Gerts (Roompot), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Cofidis), Antoine Warnier (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect), Aaron Gate (Aqua Blue Sport), Yukiya Arashiro (Bahrain-Merida), and David Tanner (Veranda's Willems-Crelan), and they were given a lead of a few minutes as the peloton saved its forces over the lumpy long loop.

The course traversed several testing ascents on the loop. The 1.3km Ruppertshain, averaging 8.5 per cent, was a particular leg breaker and, together with the 3km Mammolshain (6.7 per cent), punished the peloton three times. The 3.1km Billtalhohe (6.1 per cent) was tackled twice, with an additional trip over the Mammolshain thrown in before the flat run-in to Frankfurt.

By the time the leaders reached the Ruppertshain with 79km to go, the peloton was within half a minute, and three riders leapt clear to bridge across to the group; Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo), Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) made the breakaway 10-strong, but soon Teklehaimanot was left behind.

The remaining group of nine shattered over the Mammolshain, with Gogl, Lambrecht, and Muhlberger leaving the rest behind as the peloton kept them at arm's length, just 20 seconds ahead.

With 50km to go, Arashiro was put back to work chasing the trio for teammate Grega Bole from a front peloton that split over the Mammolshain. Also in the group were Nils Politt and Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin), Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo). The group soon reeled in the trio ahead, while the peloton was shedding sprinters behind the pace of Team Sunweb, 45 seconds behind.

On the final ascent of the Mammolshain, the last climb of the race, the peloton was closing in, 35 seconds in arrears as the breakaway began to lose the early attackers. Arashiro was first to go, followed by Politt, leaving eight riders in the lead.

Behind, attacks flew on the climb from Michael Matthews (Sunweb) and Dimension Data's Merhawi Kudus, and they were joined over the top by a CCC's Jan Tratnik, Pieter Weening (Roompot), Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).

This second group slowly clawed its way up to the leaders, sitting midway between the reduced peloton and the head of the race at 20 seconds with 33 largely flat kilometres to go. Riding in his first race since being hit by a car in South Africa and fracturing his pelvis and sacrum, De Plus mostly tail-gunned the leading group while the rest kept a steady rotation, holding off the Matthews group.

With 25km to go, the eight leaders enjoyed a 53-second lead over the chasers and it looked as if the new formula had indeed turned the race on its head. Soon the chasers threw in the towel and were picked up by the peloton, led by UAE Team Emirates for Kristoff, Quick-Step Floors, and CCC Sprandi Polkowice, who were left with a gap of 1:20 to make up over the final 20km.

Quick-Step, knowing that De Plus was out-powered in the lead group, started to pour on the power in the chase, and slashed the advantage of the leaders to just 35 seconds as they wound through Frankfurt with 17km to go. With the peloton bearing down, there was an attack with 10.7km to go from Bernard, with Spilak and Bole latching on. Buchmann and Lambrecht fought to rejoin the leaders but only the Bora-Hansgrohe rider made it across. Now only four-strong, the lead group held a lead of 15 seconds on the peloton with 8km to go. With four to go, the gap was down to five seconds.

However, the Quick-Step Floors team had the quartet in its sights as they led the peloton through the finishing chute with 6km to go, but let the four leaders dangle, finally sweeping past with 3km to go. UAE Team Emirates sent Aleksandr Riabushenko off the front with 2.5km to go in an attempt to foil the script. Several counter-attacks followed, but the sprint was inevitable.

Quick-Step had the lead-out in its hand, and Gaviria looked to have stolen a march on his rivals, only to misjudge the final bend and bash his handlebars in frustration. In the long subsequent drag to the line, Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) opened up the sprint, but Kristoff mowed him down, holding off Matthews to take a repeat win.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates5:13:24 
2Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb  
3Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
4Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
5Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
6Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
7Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe  
8Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data  
9Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
10Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
11Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
12Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
13Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
14Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
15Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
16Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
17Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
18Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
19Casper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport  
20Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
21Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo0:00:07 
22Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
23Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
24Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates  
25Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors0:00:10 
26Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:00:18 
27Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:28 
28Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:00:44 
29Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
30Julien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
31Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
32Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
33Franck Bonnamour (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  
34Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
35Artem Nych (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
36James Shaw (GBr) Lotto Soudal  
37Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:49 
38Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo  
39Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
40Marco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
41Patryk Stosz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:01:12 
42Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
43Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data0:01:26 
44Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport0:01:37 
45Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
46Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
47Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
48Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data  
49Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
50Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors  
51Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data  
52Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
53Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
54Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin  
55Ildar Arslanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
56Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
57Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data  
58Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:01:43 
59Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain-Merida  
60Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  
61Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
62Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
63Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
64Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
65Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:03:33 
66Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:03:52 
67Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Fortuneo-Samsic0:04:11 
68Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
69Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport  
70Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  
71Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFSteff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFMarcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFMarco Mathis (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFEnzo Wouters (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFSimon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFJai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb  
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb  
DNFMax Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFFabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFMaximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFNicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFPeter Kennaugh (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFGregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFGregory Daniel (USA) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFAlex Frame (NZl) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFEduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFSho Hatsuyama (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFMarino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFEnrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFIvan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFMeiyin Wang (Chn) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFPieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFTim Ariesen (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFJeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFSjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFBrian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFAndrew Fenn (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFPeter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFMatthew Brammeier (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFSimon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFOdd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFNacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFDaniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFMichaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFThomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFAaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFBrice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  
DNFArnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  
DNFKevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic  
DNFJustin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFLukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFAntoine Warnier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic  
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFMichal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFDries De Bondt (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFArjen Livyns (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFNikolay Trusov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFIgor Boev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  

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