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Thüringen Rundfahrt 2014 - Lisa Brennauer & Loren Rowney preview the race

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One of the casualties of the UCI women's cycling calendar this year has been one of the best and hardest stage races of the year. Thüringen Rundfahrt is a fantastic week-long race in East Germany, run by ex-rider Vera Hohlfeld, which is always fun to race and superb for spectators... and this year started the day after the Giro Rosa finished. But it's still going to be a great race, with Specialized-lululemon riders Evelyn Stevens and Trixi Worrack racing their own Grand Tour by leaving Italy to start in Germany - and their young German team-mate Lisa Brennauer getting her campaign to win the race off to a flying start by winning the 4km prologue. And another Spec-lulu who's very happy to be racing there is Aussie Loren Rowney - Loren very kindly interviewed Lisa about the race for us - and below we'll tell you a more about the race and how to follow it, with video and results from the prologue - and, of course, we'll talk about it all as it happens, in the comments.

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Loren: Lisa, firstly congratulations on winning both German National Titles just a few weeks back. It must feel pretty special to be wearing the national colors in your home countries biggest race, Thüringen Rundfahrt?

Lisa: Thanks! Yes it's a feeling that's hard to describe. I had goosebumps when I got to see my National Champion's kit the day before Thüringen and I'm excited to wear it. In fact I'm so excited that to me this tour can't go wrong.

Loren: What do you love most about Thüringen? What makes it such an exciting race to be a part of?

Lisa: I like the area, the hard profile of the races, how well the race is organized and the spectators. For me it's special to be part of such a big cycling event in my own country.

Loren: You have two teammates coming straight off the back of the Giro. With 7 days of racing to go, that's got to be tough! How do you think they will cope?

Lisa: They're very experienced so I think they'll be fine. With their age, and I don't want to call them old ;), it's also something new to them, something that could bring further development and adaptation, so it's kind of an experiment too I guess. They'll be fine and I'm looking forward to racing with them.

Loren: You placed third at Thüringen on the overall GC last year to Emma Johansson. What are your goals for yourself and the team this week?

Lisa: Yes, last year it turned out as a perfect week for me. Hopefully we can continue that this year. For sure as a team we're here to win.

Loren: Last year you had an amazing year with Specialized-lululemon. Our team owner Kristy commented that it was your "breakthrough year on the road". What are your big goals for the remainder of the season?

Lisa: Of course the World Championships in September are definitely on my radar, but they are a couple of other things to come. La Course will be an exciting event and as current Word Champions the TTT World Cup in Sweden is going to be very important too. I'm looking forward to this second part of the season.

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Loren also told us what she's feeling about the race, too:

From my side, this race is really special for the team because obviously as Tmobile, HTC, and now Lululemon we have always had a large German contingent of riders and staff. So even though everyone who has come from the Giro is exhausted, the staff and riders are so excited to be here! It's a race that the team always does well in, because it's really really tough, aggressive racing on unrelenting terrain.

This is my second year doing it, and I have to say it's my favorite stage race. The crowds at the start/finish are fantastic. You have the beer tents and bratwurst vans, and lots of fans coming up to the riders getting autographs and photos. You really "feel" like a professional in these moments. And I personally love the interactions with the fans. Like all women's races, I wish there was more coverage!

Because this is one of those races that can come down to seconds! So we are off to a flying start with Lisa in the yellow, Trixi in third, and both Evie and I in the top 15 after the prologue. Bring on the next 6 days!

***

Thüringen Rundfahrt runs from 14th to 20th July 2014, and it's great to follow.  There's a live ticker on their website that's in German (if it doesn't come up first time, click liveticker on the right) and the amazing Richie Steege, Boels-Dolmans mechanic, left the Giro to work Thüringen - and to live-tweet the team's efforts for Lizzie Armitstead (who punctured in the prologue and still finished 8th!) - so follow him.

There's lots of good information on the race on their website and on their facebook (give them a like!) and you can even buy race jerseys from them, for a very cheap price.  Here's the startlist on Romers.nl,   If you want to know what it's like to visit, I went in 2011, and you can read all my stories and see my photos from that trip here on the Café - and you can see videos from last year's race here. I can't speak highly enough about this race - with every stage starting and finishing in the same town, and looping through at least once mid-race, it's perfect for spectators, the area is beautiful, and the racing is always hard an exciting.

Let's talk about the race as it happens in the comments - and of course, if you see photos, videos or twitter fun, add it in!  Here's a start from the Prologue - some video from MDR.de, who are great at covering the race (even though their videos don't stay up forever), photos on the race website, and the results.

1.   Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, 0:05:58
2.   Christine Majerus (Lux) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:09
3.   Trixi Worrack (Ger) Specialized-lululemon, s.t.
4.   Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Germany, s.t.
5.   Sarah Roy (Aus) Australia, + 00:10
6.   Lizzie Williams (Aus) Australia, + 00:16
7.   Romy Kasper (Ger) Boels-Dolmans, + 00:18
8.   Lizzie Armitstead (GBr) Boels-Dolmans, s.t.
9.   Elke Gebhardt (Ger) Bigla, + 00:20
10. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Maxx- Solar, + 00:21

Full results