On May 1 a field composed of international standouts will bring down the curtain to this season’s spring classics in Germany’s most venerated race. Eschborn-Frankfurt will welcome the 140 riders from 20 teams who will battle on a course chalk-full of challenges. Edition 57 of this cycling classic will feature more difficulties than ever before over the 212.5 kilometres and 3,500m of elevation gain. With the new route of the Taunus loop and an even more arduous finish, this year the race promises to make it a nail biting end to the spring classic season.
Last year’s podium finishers Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates), Rick Zabel (Team Katusha-Alpecin) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) head the notable entry list. “Eschborn-Frankfurt is a home race for me and like the major classics I have circled it on my calendar. Last year, I came up a bit short. I have stood on all the podium steps in a classic. The highest is always the best and if it was up to me, this is exactly the one I would like to be on again in two weeks”, said local star John Degenkolb in the run up to the race.
Following the transfer of three-time winner Alexander Kristoff, the cards have been shuffled at Katuscha-Alpecin. After a remarkable debut last year, Rick Zabel is also in it with a shot at the race win as is his team mate Nils Politt. The 24-year old rider capped of his strong start to the season with 7th place in Paris-Roubaix. Classics specialists like many time stage winner on the major tours Michael Matthews (Team-Sunweb) and Belgian national champion Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) also plan to be in the hunt this year for the win in this race that concludes in front of the old opera house.
On a revamped final stretch, the classics specialists will take on the best sprinters in the world. Marcel Kittel (Team Katusha-Alpecin) returns to the race after his first participation last year. “I can’t wait for the start on May 1. The race is an important supporter of German cycling. The fantastic atmosphere and the many spectators along the side of the road make this event an absolute highlight for us riders. For sure, the new route will make the race more difficult. But if I am honest, it is not a big deal for a sprinter like me. After a break, I would love to find my rhythm and support my team mates in the best possible manner. Depending on how the race unfolds, Katusha-Alpecin will be able to use different strategies and I will do whatever it takes for the team. ”, says the 14-time Tour de France stage winner.
Kittel will face another world-class sprinter in none other than André Greipel who will make his return to Eschborn-Frankfurt after recovering from a broken clavicle, suffered on Milan-San Remo, which resulted in him passing on the spring classics. There will be plenty of other challengers such as multiple stage winner on the Giro d’Italia, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis Solutions Crédits) as well as the latest generation of German sprinters represented by Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) and Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb). While Ackermann recently just missed out on taking his first victory at the pro level during three Belgian classics, Bauhaus has already showed his speed on winning stages on the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Abu Dhabi Tour, right under the very noses of the best sprinters on the planet.
In total, 16 German riders, or more than half of all the Germans pros on the WorldTour, are on the preliminary list of their teams for this edition. Accomplished climbers such as Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) and Simon Geschke (Team Sunweb) will be thrilled with the dizzying elevation gains and the return of some of those climbs that have marked the history of the race.
In addition to these cycling house-hold names, there will also be some young and burgeoning talents at the Eschborn-Frankfurt start line. 2017 Under 23 world champion, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) will test his skills on the challenging German race. Last year, Fabio Jakobsen was in the final sprint of the Under 23 edition of Eschborn-Frankfurt but now he rides with the pros. At just the age of 21, he has joined the most successful team in the peloton this year and with his wins on the Nokere Koerse and the Grand Prix de L’Escaut; he has made quite an impression at Quick-Step Floors.
Ten WorldTour teams and 11 pro continental teams will participate this year in the race. Quick-Step Floors and BORA-hansgrohe are leading in the WorldTour standings and will try to consolidate their positions in adding extra points to their respective tallies on Eschborn-Frankfurt. With Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Cofidis Solution Credits and WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic three of the best teams of the UCI EuropeTour will start at Eschborn-Frankfurt.
“We are delighted by the great interest of the teams for this classic. The peloton is not only a dream entry but it also very well balanced. The biggest talents in pro cycling will line up for the start of Eschborn-Frankfurt: the best spring specialists will ride alongside some very young and talented riders and the climbers will look to make the most of the mountains surrounding the Taunus to give the elite sprinters food for thought. It promises to be full of suspense all the way to the end”, says Claude Rach, manager of Eschborn-Frankfurt.
20 teams, the main riders
Naesen, Vandenbergh, Cosnefroy
Bole, Garcia Cortina
Ackermann, Bennett, Buchmann
Gaviria, Jakobsen, Richeze
Politt, Zabel, Kittel, Spilak
Matthews, Bauhaus, Geschke, Theuns
Degenkolb, Van Poppel, Rast
2017 best-of photos
KEV MONKS FOR DIGITAL SPORTS GROUP