The Bayern Rundfahrt (Tour of Bavaria) is longer than ever this year, at 783 kilometres. Despite its six ranked climbs, however, it is expected to remain, true to its traditions, a race for the sprinters. The first two stages are both over 200 kilometers, a first for the race.
The opening stage is in fact the longest, 223 km from Pfarrkirchen to Freystadt. It features the category two Riedenburg at 157km, and the Sulzburg 40 km later. It ends with two laps of an 8km circuit in Freystadt, with a mass sprint finish expected.
Stage two is similar, running 206km from Freystadt to Bad Gögging. There are again two climbs, including the category one Kelheim/Ihrlerstein with a maximum gradient of 22 percent. But any possible escapees are expected to be caught no later than the two closing circuits which will probably produce another mass sprint finish.
The pattern holds in the third stage. Along the 180.8 km from Bad Gögging to Aichach, there are two category one climbs, including one with a maximum gradient of 20%. But the climbs come early in the rolling stage, and it ends again with two laps of a circuit course.
Stage four is a relatively flat 26km individual time trial in Friedberg, which could see a showdown of world champions. The race closes with 162km from Friedberg to Moosbach, over a heavily rolling course, but which offers for a change three laps of the closing circuit.
The time trial will see four-time world champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) face off against three-time world champion Michael Rogers. The Australian is a late addition to the Team Sky line-up.
Last year's winner Maxime Monfort will not be riding this year, but his team Leopard Trek is sending a strong line-up with Cancellara, allrounder Fabian Wegmann and sprinters Stuart O'Grady and Giacomo Nizzolo set to feature.
Rogers will be joined by Bradley Wiggins, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Simon Gerrans in a talent-packed Sky roster. HTC-Highroad is sending successful young German sprinter John Degenkolb.
The race will also be a chance for Marcel Kittel of Skil-Shimano to test himself against the top names. The young German has been on fire this spring, with his most recent win being the first ProRace Berlin on Sunday.
His other wins this season include four out of the five stage at the Four Days of Dunkirk.
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