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After the early break was caught with less than 500m to go, Bouhanni initially won the sprint at EuroEyes Cyclassics; however, a relegation of the Frenchman gave the win to Ewan, with Degenkolb in 2nd and Nizzolo in third

Photo: Sirotti

EUROEYES CYCLASSICS

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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MITCHELTON-SCOTT

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NACER BOUHANNI

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21.08.2016 @ 18:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Caleb Ewan (Orica-BikeExchange) took his first classics win when he came out on top in the EuroEyes Cyclassics but he would probably have preferred it to come in a less controversial manner. After a dramatic finale where the remnants of the early break was caught inside the final 500m, Nacer BouhannI (Cofidis) initially crossed the line first and even gave the winner’s interview before it was announced that he had been relegated for irregular sprinting. That allowed Ewan to take the first big one-day win of his career, with John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) completing the podium.

 

Caleb Ewan has long been hailed as a future top sprinter. Already in his first year on the pro scene, he took numerous wins, most notably at his debut grand tour in the Vuelta a Espana, and earlier this year he added more WorldTour wins to his palmares at the Tour Down Under.

 

However, Ewan is more than just a sprinter. At the U23 level, he showed solid climbing skills too and he was even close to the podium in the very hard Worlds race in Florence in 2013. Earlier this year he mixed it up with Chris Froome on a short climb at the Herald Sun Tour and so Orica-BikeExchange have done nothing to hide that they have ambitions for the classics with their fastman.

 

After earlier attempts at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Ewan got his next chance in today’s EuroEyes Cyclassics which had gathered maybe the best sprint field of the entire season. The Australian showed that he is destined for a great future in the one-day races too as he won the big WorldTour race in his first attempt.

 

However, he would probably have preferred the victory to have come in a different way. In fact, he was only the second rider to cross the line after a very hectic finale where the early break was only caught inside the final 500m. However, Nacer Bouhanni who had beaten him in the sprint, was relegated due to irregular sprinting and so Ewan could step onto the podium as the winner of the biggest German race.

 

The 21st edition of the EuroEyes Cyclassics was held on a classic 217.7km course around the city of Hamburg. After a big, flat loop of the southern outskirts, the riders headed to the west where they tackled the key climb of Waseberg, a short 500m ascent of around 20%, before the returned to the city centre again. In the end, they headed back to the climbs for three laps of a 12.8km circuit which saw them go up the climb every time. The final passage came with 16km to go and from there it was a flat run back to the finish in Hamburg

 

The riders had nice sunny weather as they gathered for the start of the big cycling festival in Hamburg. As usual, there were many attacks in the early part of the race, but finally six riders managed to escape. Kamil Gradek (Verva), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Argon 18), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r) and Maxat Ayazbayev (Astana) had a solid advantage at the 40km mark, and at the 77km mark, they had pushed it out to six minutes.

 

Unsurprisingly, the sprint teams hit the front and for most of the day, they kept the gap completely stable at six minutes. As they entered the final 90km, it had dropped to five minutes just before they tackled the Waseberg for the first time. The gap was falling steadily as they returned to the city centre and headed back towards the climb for the decisive part of the race.

 

The escapees hit the Waseberg circuit with 45km to go with an advantage of 2.45. As they hit the climb for the second time, Pöstlberger set a hard pace and this was too much for Montaguti who was left behind.

 

Trek, Katusha and Sky led the peloton onto the climb and as they went up the ascent, Christian Mager (Stölting) took off in a solo move. The German soon passed the fading Montaguti but he didn’t get much of an advantage. With 32km to go, he was reeled in as the fight for position again intensified.

 

Katusha and Lotto Soudal hit the front with Lars and Michael Mørkøv. Etixx-QuickStep also came to the fore with Stijn Vandenbergh as did Trek with Gregory Rast. As they approached the Waseberg for the penultimate time, it was a huge fight for position.

 

As they hit the climb, De Marchi upped the pace and this time Ayazbayev fell off the pace. Surprisingly, the peloton was a lot less aggressive and there were no attacks as they went up the climb, with Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) featuring prominently near the front. However, the pace was still too much for Andrea Guardini (Astana) who was left behind. The peloton reached the top 2.05 behind the leaders.

 

As the pace went down after the climb, Paul Voss (Bora-Argon 18) attacked and he was joined by Fabian Wegmann (Stölting). The pair stayed ahead for a few kilometres but due to the big fight for position, they were back in the fold as they entered the final 20km.

 

Etixx-QuickStep, Sky, Katusha and Lotto Soudal patrolled the front as they headed to the climb for the final time and now the gap was finally starting to come down. When the front quartet hit the ascent, they only had 1.30 left of their lead.

 

Luke Rowe (Sky) led the peloton down the descent while Pöstlberger led the front group over the top of the Waseberg. As soon as the bunch hit the ascent, Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) attacked. He was closely marked by Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) and didn’t really get a gap on the climb while sprinting past Ayazbayev. However, as he maintained the speed on the descent, he got a small gap.

 

Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) joined Costa and the pair entered the final 10km with an advantage of 15 seconds to the peloton which was 1.15 behind the leaders. However, the chase was now getting organized as Sky and Etixx-QuickStep hit the front and so they were soon brought back.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo, Orica-BikeExhange, Giant-Alpecin, Sky, Katusha, IAM, Dimension Data and Etixx-QuickStep all lent a hand to the chase as they hit the panic button but nonetheless the gap was only coming down slowly. With 6km to go, it was still 45 seconds.

 

Reinardt van Rensburg, Maarten Wynants, Luke Durbridge, Simon Geschke and Viacheslav Kuznetsov all took huge turns on the front as they sped towards the centre of Hamburg. Katusha, IAM, Orica-BikeExchange, Dimension Data and LottoNL were the most active in the chase but they had a hard time closing it down as the gap was still 30 seconds with 4km to go.

 

Daryl Impey, Marco Haller and Jasper Stuyven lent some extra firepower to the chase as they entered the final 3km and this made a huge difference. The gap was melting away and was down to less than 10 seconds with 2km to go.

 

Pöstlberger tried to keep the break alive by taking a huge turn which was too much for Mohoric who fell behind. However, the Austrian paid the price for his effort and he was unable to respond when Gradek countered under the flamme rouge.

 

De Marchi stayed glued to Gradek’s wheel and as the Pole started to fade, he made his counterattack. The Italian passed the 500m to go mark but it was all in vain as the peloton was kicking into sprint mode.

 

A big crash with two Tinkoff riders created chaos and it was Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) who found himself in the wind too early. The Italian tried to launch a long sprint, quickly passing De Marchi. However, Bouhanni was in the perfect position on this wheel and he easily came around. Caleb Ewan could do no more than staying on his wheel to take second while John Degenkolb finished fast to pass Nizzolo and cross the line in third.

 

Bouhanni gave his winner’s interview and prepared himself to step onto the podium before his relegation was announced. Instead, Ewan won the race, with Degenkolb in second and Nizzolo in third.

 

With EuroEyes Cyclassics done and dusted, the next WorldTour classics is the Bretagne Classic in Plouay which will be held next Sunday. The next major race in Germany is the Münsterland Giro in October.

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