One week after finishing third in the Tour de France, Jan Ullrich is to spearhead a strong T-Mobile team in the HEW Cyclassics ProTour race in Hamburg this Sunday. Ullrich and a fellow previous winner Erik Zabel will lead the magenta charge for the 250.5 kilometre event, with Sergey Ivanov, Andreas Klier, Steffen Wesemann, Eric Baumann, André Korff and Stephan Schreck all providing support.
"In Jan and Erik Zabel we will be starting the race with two riders that have already won in Hamburg," said team directeur sportif Olaf Ludwig, referring to their victories in 1997 and 2001. "They are our trump cards."
Ludwig expects the selection to go on the tough Waseberg climb, which will be covered four times during the race. "The narrow climb is short, but tough. If a leading group can form there, I see a strong chance that Jan can be among them. If it all boils down to a bunch sprint, then we have Erik Zabel in reserve. He has been training intensively for this for the last few weeks."
The other riders may go in an early break or, alternatively, may help to reel back other moves. T-Mobile will obviously be fired up to do well on home soil, but Ludwig says they will not be assuming responsibility. "This race will be hard to control. We will have to wait and see what happens."
A strong lineup is expected for the event. Last year's winner Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis) is expected to be back, while current ProTour leader Danilo di Luca (Liquigas) has also got his eyes set on the win. 2003 HEW champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), runner-up Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and TDF green jersey Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) are also seen by Ludwig as big threats. Up to one million spectators are expected for the race, which will be renamed as the Vattenfall Cyclassics in 2006.