Australian-German Heinrich Haussler will make a long-awaited return to competition at the EuroEyes Cyclassics in Hamburg on Sunday. The Bahrain-Merida rider is hoping for one final shot to save his career, knowing that how he performs in the race is key to his future.
Haussler had double knee surgeries this year, but after his months-long layoff, he's ready and eager to race again. "Of course I am crazily excited but also ready for this race in Hamburg," Haussler said. "It's something I've really been working for since the last operation. I'm in good shape and I've done some hard rides this week just to test my knee and see if I'll be ready to ride in race conditions and it has been good. So I am super confident and excited to be out there again with the boys."
Directeur sportif Harald Morscher is expecting a sprint and is looking to his Italian fast men Sonny Colbrelli and Niccolo Bonifazio for results.
"This race was won mostly from sprinters in the last years. For sure it will be a hard race and long, with its 220 km. Our strategy is very simple: we won't just fight for a breakaway, king of the mountain or anything else – we will fight for the win," Morscher said. "With Colbrelli and Bonifazio we have 2 excellent sprinters in the team and with Haussler, who is coming back from his long recovery, we have the best 'Regiemaster' in our group. He will for sure surprise us all."
Bahrain-Merida for the EuroEyes Cyclassics: Yukiya Arashiro, Grega Bole, Niccolò Bonifazio, Borut Božic, Sonny Colbrelli, Heinrich Haussler, David Per and Luka Pibernik.
BMC behind Drucker for Hamburg
The BMC Racing Team says it will be behind Luxembourg's Jempy Drucker for the EuroEyes Cyclassics in Hamburg this weekend. Drucker has shown good form in recent weeks, with a win in the Tour de Wallonie, sixth in RideLondon, and a solid week's work for Greg Van Avermaet in the BinckBank Tour.
"It was a tough week of racing at Binck Bank Tour, but I felt like my form was there and that I was able to work hard for the team," Drucker said. "My legs have been feeling good, and I know that my speed is there, so I am motivated to produce a good result at EuroEyes Cyclassics if the race comes down a bunch sprint."
BMC directeur sportif Fabio Baldato is expecting the race to come to a sprint. "We have seen in the past that this race is one for the sprinters and if this is once again the case, we have Jempy Drucker on our roster who, as we saw at the Prudential RideLondon Surrey Classic, is in good shape," Baldato said.
"We also have riders like Silvan Dillier, Loïc Vliegen and Manuel Quinziato who we know can race hard and can go with any strong moves on the circuit. Of course, we also have Greg Van Avermaet lining up, and he is coming into the race, as he always does, in strong form and will be motivated to score some more UCI WorldTour points if the opportunity presents itself."
Van Avermaet, however, is looking farther down the road toward and views the race as a stepping stone for them.
"My shape was really good at Binck Bank Tour, and my legs were where I wanted them to be. I was really happy with how I raced, so I am feeling good heading into the next UCI WorldTour one-day race. For me, my main goals for the rest of the season are still to come, but this will be a good opportunity to continue to build my form and keep that race feeling in my legs heading into next month," Van Avermaet said.
BMC Racing Team for EuroEyes Cyclassics: Silvan Dillier, Jempy Drucker, Floris Gerts, Amaël Moinard, Manuel Quinziato, Greg Van Avermaet, Loïc Vliegen, Danilo Wyss.
UAE Team Emirates backs Ferrari
The UAE Team Emirates is also expecting a bunch sprint for the EuroEyes Cyclassics and is filling its squad with fast men in order to maximize the chance for a result in the 220km race in Hamburg. The race takes part over three different loops, the last of which is a short lap taken in three times with the last climb of the Waserberg coming just outside 15km to go.
Directeur sportif Orlando Maini explained his choices for the WorldTour event. "Usually this race is the perfect battleground for sprinters; this is why we would like to give Roberto Ferrari the chance to go up against the best sprinters of the pack," Maini said. "Roberto is always impeccable in the role of last man in the leading-train for our other speedsters, but he has always been ready when he's been assigned a captain's rank as well. The Waseberg is the only part of the route that could weed out the group; [Diego] Ulissi, [Ben] Swift and [Marco] Marcato are going to have to be ready for it."
Swift said the race is usually full of opportunities to attack, "although a final sprint is still the most probable outcome. I will try to seize the moment and the right situation to try to get into a tight group in which I can make my move during the sprint to the finish line."
UAE Team Emirates for EuroEyes Cyclassics: Simone Consonni, Roberto Ferrari, Filippo Ganna, Marko Kump, Marco Marcato, Oliviero Troia, Ben Swift, Diego Ulissi
Lotto Soudal hires new General Manager
The Lotto Soudal team announced today that it has appointed a new General Manager of "Captains of Cycling", "the cooperative structure that, as the driving force behind Belgian cycling, takes the Lotto Soudal cycling teams to the head of the pack", according to a press release.
Paul De Geyter will start the role effective September 1, putting "his extensive experience in sports management to work for the team".
De Geyter's most recent role was owner and GM of Celio Sport & Image, the firm that has managed Tom Boonen, Greg Van Avermaet, Johan Museeuw, Robbie McEwen, Frank Vandenbroucke, Richard Virenque, Peter Van Petegem, as well as current Lotto Soudal riders Tim Wellens, Thomas De Gendt, Tiesj Benoot and Jelle Vanendert.