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In the highly anticipated bunch sprint at the German championships, Greipel took his third national title; Wahlscheid and Kittel rounded out the top 3

Photo: ANSA - PERI / DI MEO / ZENNARO

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MARCEL KITTEL

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MAX WALSCHEID

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NATIONAL CHAMPIONSSHIPS

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26.06.2016 @ 19:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After just one year in Lotto Soudal colours, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) will be back in the German champion's jersey after he rode to a dominant win in the highly anticipated bunch sprint at the national championships in Erfurt. Big rival Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was boxed in and had to settle for third while neo-pro Max Wahlscheid (Giant-Alpecin) took a surprise second place.

 

It came down to the expected high-speed race but in the grand finale of the German Road Championships in Erfurt, it did not end in the expected close duel between the two best German sprinters, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Marcel Kittel (Etixx-Quick-Step). Instead, the 33-year-old Greipel secured his third title after 2013 and 2014 with an impressive sprint from the front and left his main rivals behind by several bike lengths.

 

The second place was surprisingly taken by Max Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin) who is recovered from his injuries sustained in a training accident in January in Spain and took his best result as a professional while Kittel was boxed in and had to settle for third.

 

The race was held over 14 laps of a mostly flat circuit in Erfurt for an overall distance of 215.6km. The riders gathered for the start in the best possible conditions but all attacks in the first 75 kilometers were thwarted by the high speed. At the end of the sixth lap at an average speed of almost 50km/h, a star-studded group finally got clear. Andreas Schillinger (Bora-Argon 18), Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r), Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick-Step), Nils Politt (Katusha), Lennard Kämna (Stölting), Jonas Koch (Rad Union Wangen ) and Marcel Franz (LKT Team Brandenburg) were all there but surprisingly Greipel had also made his way into the move.

 

The strong group never got a big gap, and when the five riders from Giant-Alpecin team upped the pace in the field, it was over for the escapees on the ninth lap. There were more attacks, with Bora and LKT Team Brandenburg being particularly active

 

After an attack from Thomas Koepp (Stölting), Schillinger and Robert William Kessler (LKT Team Brandenburg) were part of the action together with Florian Bissinger (WSA Greenlife) and Florian Kretschy (Team Sachsen). But it was mainly national time trial champion Tony Martin who ended this attempt almost single-handedly in the third last lap.

 

It was the same fate for a group with the Bora duo of Michael Schwarzmann and Paul Voss and a later move from three-time German champion Fabian Wegmann (Stölting) who had taken off alongside amateur rider Martin Gluth. Unfortunately, Gluth raised his arms one lap too early, making for an embarrassing situation for the youngster.

 

In the final lap, there was again a duel between a break and the peloton as Schwarzmann, Grischa Janorschke (Roth) and Yannick Mayer (Veranclassic) tried. And it was again Martin, supported by U23 time trial champion Maximilian Schachenmann - from the Etixx junior team Klein Constantia – who closed it down for Kittel 3000 meters from the finish.

 

However, he was badly positioned and after his former teammate John Degenkolb had opened the finale, he could not take a home win. Instead Greipel is now in the white jersey for the third time in his career and will wear it for the first time at the Tour de France.

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