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After many near-misses, Greipel continued his fantastic 2015 season by finally winning his big home race Vattenfall Cyclassics; Kristoff and Nizzolo completed the podium

Photo: Sirotti

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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EUROEYES CYCLASSICS

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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23.08.2015 @ 17:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After several near-misses, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) has finally added the Vattenfall Cyclassics to his growing palmares. After splendid positioning in the reduced bunch sprint, he came around defending champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in the finale and held the Norwegian off to conquer the biggest race in his home country.

 

André Greipel may have one of the most impressive palmares in the peloton but the big classics are missing from the list. Apart from two consecutive victories in the Brussels Cycling Classis, he has failed to win one of the biggest one-day races.

 

Vattenfall Cyclassics has always featured high on his list. Being the only German WorldTour race and one that is usually decided by sprinters, it has been an obvious target for the Lotto Soudal captain but until today he had always come up short. He had been on the podium a couple of times but had missed the luck to come out on top in his big home race.

 

However, it was ever going to work out for the German it had to be in 2015. Greipel has had an outstanding season with four stage wins in the Tour de France and after he showed great condition in the Eneco Tour, he went into the 2015 edition as the overwhelming favourite. Finally, things came together as he beat Alexander Kristoff in a reduced bunch sprint to take the biggest one-day win of his career.

 

With 20km to go, it was a 50-rider peloton that had made the selection after two early passages of the landmark 15% Waseberg climb and a big crash had split the field. Approaching the climb for the final time, it was Tinkoff-Saxo who took control with Michael Rogers before FDJ took over. Everybody was fighting hard for position and it was Lotto Soudal who won the battle as they hit narrow roads with 16km to go.

 

Tiesj Benoot led the group down a small descent for the Belgian team but as the pace went down, Linus Gerdemann (Cult) took the opportunity to attack. As no one responded, he got a small gap and was the first rider to hit the climb.

 

Surprisingly, the peloton rode slowly up the ascent and didn’t react when Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL) and Dylan Teuns (BMC) took off. As they reached the top, they had caught Gerdemann.

 

Cresting the summit, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) and Michael Valgren (Tinkoff-Saxo) took off and the Frenchman would join the front group just as Gerdemann had launched a solo attack. He was forced to sprint past Teuns and Vanmarcke and made it up to the lone German while Valgren caught the two chasers.

 

In the peloton, Marco Haller (Katusha) and Benoot had controlled things on the climb before an FDJ rider, Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) and Benoot started to chase. They brought the chasers back with 11km to go and at the 10km to go mark, the front group was back too.

 

Kuznetsov and Sergey Lagutin set the pace for Katusha in the 50-rider peloton and they didn’t respond when Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) attacked. The Italian got a 10-second advantage before Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Matthias Brändle (IAM) took off. Their action brought Ulissi back with 6km to go but as they had the rest of the peloton in tow, it was all back together.

 

Davide Malacarne (Astana) and Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) were next to try and were joined by Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Kistijan Koren (Cannondale-Garmin). However, Movistar had now taken complete control with Jonathan Castroviejo, Jesus Herrada and Ion Izagirre and they brought everything back together with 4km to go.

 

Izagirre set the pace until Orica-GreenEDGE took over, launching Simon Clarke off in an attack. Stijn Vandenbergh brieful took over for Etixx-QuickStep before Lagutin and Kuznetsov brought Clarke back.

 

Manuele Mori took a turn for Lampre-Merida before Bak, Benoot, Jens Debusschere and Greipel hit the front. When Bak swung off, Benoot slowly reeled Maichael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) in after the Swiss had attacked.

 

Greipel was near the front and so safe when a big crash split the field and left less than 30 riders to contest the sprint. A frustrated Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) hit the ground and was out of the battle.

 

Haller was the next to hit the front before Benoot took over. He led the peloton under the flamme rouge before Jacopo Guarnieri did the lead-out for Alexander Kristoff. The Norwegian seemed to be in the perfect position when he launched his usual long sprint but unfortunately he had Greipel on his wheel, with the German coming around to take a convincing win. Giacomo Nizzolo completed the podium.

 

With the Vattenfall Cyclassics done and dusted, the strong sprinters and classics riders get another chance to go for glory in a WorldTour race next Sunday in the GP Plouay. The next major German race in the Münsterland Giro in early October.

 

A new start in Kiel

The 20th edition of the Vattenfall Cyclassics was held on a 221.3km course that brought the riders from Kiel to the traditional finish on the Mönckebergstrasse in Hamburg. The first part was completely flat until the riders reached the key climb of the Waseberg with 68km to go. 15km later they would reach the finish for the first time and then head back to tackle the climb twice – with 28km and 15km to go respectively – before they returned along flat roads to the finish in Hamburg.

 

It was a great sunny day when the riders gathered for the start in Kiel. It did’t take long for the early break to get formed as Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Alex Dowsett (Movistar) and Martin Mortensen (Cult) had already established an advantage after 15km of racing. The peloton was in no hurry and so they had quickly established a gap of 4.55 with 189km to go.

 

The gap comes down

The gap reached 5.10 at the 45km mark before the peloton brought it down to less than 5 minutes. The peloton continued their steady comeback and so it was only 3.10 at the 104km mark. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) went down in a crash but he was quickly back on his bike

 

Entering the last 90km, the gap hovered around the 2-minute mark and it was still relatively stable when Mortenson launched an attack with 70km to go. Dowsett was quick to surrender while Barta and Bono continued to chase.

 

The break splits up

Bono dropped Barta and made it back to Mortensen while MTN-Qhubeka had taken responsibility for the chase in the peloton. Moments later Mortensen was the first rider at the top of the Waseberg.

 

In the peloton, the attacking started when a Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Lars Boom (Astana) attacked. Andreas Stauff (MTN-Qhubeka) and Fabian Wegmann (Cult) were among a few riders to join the move but Lotto Soudal was quick to bring it back.

 

Gilbert makes a move

With 60km to go, the leading duo had an advantage of less than a minute and it was now Lotto Soudal and Katusha chasing hard in the peloton. However, the escapees worked well together and so the gap had tone out to 1.15 when they crossed the finish line for the first time. It was a Dowsett who led the peloton across the line after the two chasers had been caught.

 

Lotto Soudal again took over the pace-setting as they entered the final 50km and they were unable to respond when Brändle, Gilbert and Boaro attacked. They joined the front duo and quickly left Mortensen behind.

 

A big crash

In the peloton, a big crash split the field, taking Moreno Hofland out of contention and involving several FDJ riders. Meanwhile, Bak was setting the pace in the peloton that was just metres behind the front group.

 

With 33km to go, Boaro dropped his companions who continued to chase behind the Italian as they sped towards the bottom of the Waseberg. However, the peloton accelerated on the ascent and so everything was back together with 25km to go.

 

Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) tried to get clear but it was impossible to get a big gap as there was a huge fight for position, with Giant-Alpecin, BMC and Lotto Soudal all very active. Dillier was the next to try but when Rogers took over for Tinkoff-Saxo, it was all back together for the final 20km of the race.

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