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.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates||5:13:24|
|2||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|3||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale|
|4||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|5||Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|6||Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida|
|7||Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|8||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data|
|9||Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice|
|10||Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|11||Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|12||Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida|
|13||Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|14||Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|15||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|16||Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|17||Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|18||Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|19||Casper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport|
|20||Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|21||Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:07|
|22||Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice|
|23||Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|24||Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates|
|25||Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors||0:00:10|
|26||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors||0:00:18|
|27||Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin||0:00:28|
|28||Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:00:44|
|29||Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|30||Julien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|31||Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|32||Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|33||Franck Bonnamour (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic|
|34||Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|35||Artem Nych (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|36||James Shaw (GBr) Lotto Soudal|
|37||Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:49|
|38||Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo|
|39||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|40||Marco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|41||Patryk Stosz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice||0:01:12|
|42||Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|43||Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data||0:01:26|
|44||Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport||0:01:37|
|45||Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|46||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|47||Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors|
|48||Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data|
|49||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|50||Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors|
|51||Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data|
|52||Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice|
|53||Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|54||Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin|
|55||Ildar Arslanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|56||Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|57||Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data|
|58||Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice||0:01:43|
|59||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain-Merida|
|60||Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic|
|61||Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|62||Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo|
|63||Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors|
|64||Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|65||Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert||0:03:33|
|66||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:03:52|
|67||Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Fortuneo-Samsic||0:04:11|
|68||Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|69||Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport|
|70||Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic|
|71||Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DNF||Steff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DNF||Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DNF||Marco Mathis (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin|
|DNF||Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Lawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Enzo Wouters (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Edward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step Floors|
|DNF||Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors|
|DNF||Nicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Gregory Daniel (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Alex Frame (NZl) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|DNF||Sho Hatsuyama (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|DNF||Marino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|DNF||Alan Marangoni (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|DNF||Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Rudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida|
|DNF||Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida|
|DNF||Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida|
|DNF||Meiyin Wang (Chn) Bahrain-Merida|
|DNF||Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Tim Ariesen (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Floris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Brian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij|
|DNF||Michel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport|
|DNF||Andrew Fenn (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport|
|DNF||Peter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue Sport|
|DNF||Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport|
|DNF||Simon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Brice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic|
|DNF||Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic|
|DNF||Kevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-Samsic|
|DNF||Justin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Thomas Deruette (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Alex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Lukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Antoine Warnier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic|
|DNF||Marko Kump (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice|
|DNF||Michal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice|
|DNF||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Stijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||David Tanner (Aus) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Zico Waeytens (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan|
|DNF||Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
|DNF||Igor Boev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo|
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