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Vattenfall Cyclassic Preview

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Perhaps the only true symbol of the young Vattenfall Cyclassic race is the Jedermann event, literally the race for everyone, sort of the open scrum event that a few of the Classics hold to let fans participate and ride the course. Jedermann is a good way to describe who has a chance at winning this long, flat sprinter's race. The race's signature features are a 600 meter hill called the "famed Waseberg," which everyone seems to get over OK, and the Köhlbrandbrücke, Hamburg's highest bridge. Seriously. It's no wonder that recent editions have featured some 15-35 riders sprinting it out.

But you knew all that, and you also know better than to watch before the final km. [He said, putting a massive reverse jinx on for the benefit of the breakaway riders.] But Cycling always seems to put on a show, and this year's event will have a few subplots. Will Erik Zabel and Gerald Ciolek continue their mini-rivalry from the D-Tour, one last day? Will Danilo DiLuca grab a few points to pad his lead in the Pro Tour? Can Heinrich Haussler score a crucial win and save Gerolsteiner's sponsorship? Will any of the myriad other sprinters listed on the startlist come around the German stars? Take your pick from defending champ Oscar Freire, Daniele Bennati, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd, JJ Haedo, Bernhard Eisel, Koldo Fernandez, JJ Rojas Gil, Baden Cooke, and Robbie McEwen, for starters.

This whole event is kind of weird. Germany has been thumbing its collective nose at Cycling since Sinking Joke got nabbed during the Tour for testosterone, as if they suddenly discovered the existence of doping. The Vattenfall is conceived as part of German Cycling's 1-2 punch of showcase races, the D-Tour being the more admired half of the equation. The current of German Cycling trying to create a major presence in the sport with these two races is in sharp conflict now with the popular opinion and the media reaction to the sport. My hunch is that everyone will want to talk about doping throughout the entire weekend, and the race itself will go almost unnoticed. Yeah, sure, we're all against doping, but the grandstanding could reach newly obnoxious levels Sunday.

Check Cyclingfans for a live feed. I'll check in for the last KM, just to make sure that breakaway succeeds.