Kristoff wins fourth straight Eschborn-Frankfurt

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

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates5:13:24
2Michael Matthews (Aus) Team SunwebRow 1 - Cell 2
3Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 2 - Cell 2
4Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 3 - Cell 2
5Sean De Bie (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 4 - Cell 2
6Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 5 - Cell 2
7Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-HansgroheRow 6 - Cell 2
8Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension DataRow 7 - Cell 2
9Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 8 - Cell 2
10Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa OviniRow 9 - Cell 2
11Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 10 - Cell 2
12Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 11 - Cell 2
13Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 12 - Cell 2
14Remy Mertz (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 13 - Cell 2
15Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 14 - Cell 2
16Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 15 - Cell 2
17Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 16 - Cell 2
18Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 17 - Cell 2
19Casper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue SportRow 18 - Cell 2
20Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 19 - Cell 2
21Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo0:00:07
22Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 21 - Cell 2
23Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 22 - Cell 2
24Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team EmiratesRow 23 - Cell 2
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 OviniRow 28 - Cell 2
30Julien Mortier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 29 - Cell 2
31Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 30 - Cell 2
32Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 31 - Cell 2
33Franck Bonnamour (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 32 - Cell 2
34Huub Duijn (Ned) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 33 - Cell 2
35Artem Nych (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 34 - Cell 2
36James Shaw (GBr) Lotto SoudalRow 35 - Cell 2
37Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:49
38Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-SegafredoRow 37 - Cell 2
39Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 38 - Cell 2
40Marco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa OviniRow 39 - Cell 2
41Patryk Stosz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:01:12
42Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 41 - Cell 2
43Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data0:01:26
44Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport0:01:37
45Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 44 - Cell 2
46Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 45 - Cell 2
47Tim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 46 - Cell 2
48Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension DataRow 47 - Cell 2
49Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 48 - Cell 2
50Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step FloorsRow 49 - Cell 2
51Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension DataRow 50 - Cell 2
52Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 51 - Cell 2
53Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 52 - Cell 2
54Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Katusha-AlpecinRow 53 - Cell 2
55Ildar Arslanov (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 54 - Cell 2
56Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 55 - Cell 2
57Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension DataRow 56 - Cell 2
58Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:01:43
59Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain-MeridaRow 58 - Cell 2
60Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 59 - Cell 2
61Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 60 - Cell 2
62Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 61 - Cell 2
63Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 62 - Cell 2
64Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 63 - Cell 2
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 MondialeRow 67 - Cell 2
69Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue SportRow 68 - Cell 2
70Amael Moinard (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 69 - Cell 2
71Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 70 - Cell 2
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 71 - Cell 2
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 72 - Cell 2
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 73 - Cell 2
DNFSteff Cras (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 74 - Cell 2
DNFMarcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 75 - Cell 2
DNFMarco Mathis (Ger) Katusha-AlpecinRow 76 - Cell 2
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 77 - Cell 2
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 78 - Cell 2
DNFEnzo Wouters (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 79 - Cell 2
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Team SunwebRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team SunwebRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Geschke (Ger) Team SunwebRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFJai Hindley (Aus) Team SunwebRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Team SunwebRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFMax Walscheid (Ger) Team SunwebRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFFabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step FloorsRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFMaximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step FloorsRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFNicolas Dougall (RSA) Dimension DataRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFJay Thomson (RSA) Dimension DataRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFPeter Kennaugh (GBr) Bora-HansgroheRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Bora-HansgroheRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFGregory Rast (Swi) Trek-SegafredoRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-SegafredoRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFGregory Daniel (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Frame (NZl) Trek-SegafredoRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFEduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa OviniRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFSho Hatsuyama (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa OviniRow 98 - Cell 2
DNFMarino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa OviniRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa OviniRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La MondialeRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFEnrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFIvan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFMeiyin Wang (Chn) Bahrain-MeridaRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFPieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFTim Ariesen (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFJeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFSjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFBrian van Goethem (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse LoterijRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFAndrew Fenn (GBr) Aqua Blue SportRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFPeter Koning (Ned) Aqua Blue SportRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFMatthew Brammeier (Irl) Aqua Blue SportRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFOdd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Groupe GobertRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFNacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFMichaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFAaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFBrice Feillu (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFArnaud Gerard (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFKevin Ledanois (Fra) Fortuneo-SamsicRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFJustin Jules (Fra) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 135 - Cell 2
DNFLukas Spengler (Swi) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 136 - Cell 2
DNFAntoine Warnier (Bel) WB Aqua Protect VeranclassicRow 137 - Cell 2
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 138 - Cell 2
DNFMichal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFDries De Bondt (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 140 - Cell 2
DNFArjen Livyns (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 141 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 142 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 143 - Cell 2
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 144 - Cell 2
DNFNikolay Trusov (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 145 - Cell 2
DNFIgor Boev (Rus) Gazprom-RusveloRow 146 - Cell 2

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Laura Weislo
Managing Editor

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, anti-doping, UCI governance and performing data analysis.

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