American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) defended his title in the Vattenfall Cyclassics on Sunday.
Farrar, who abandoned the Tour de France on stage 12 after racing for nine days with a broken wrist, out-kicked Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) and Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) in a sprint finish to win the 216.6km race for the second consecutive year.
In doing so, the American became the first rider to win back-to-back editions of the race, which was first held in 1996.
Farrar was in the main peloton as it approached the fourth and final ascent of the short Waseberg climb, whose summit was 16km from the finish line.
Just before the summit Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Filippo Pozzatto (Katusha) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) went off in pursuit of an earlier three-man breakaway.
But the trio was kept in check by driving rain and a peloton that seemed intent on sticking together for as long as possible.
The counter-attack was eventually caught with just under 10km remaining, as Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) helped Boasson Hagen’s Sky team drive the chase.
Soon the breakaway trio also bowed to the superior speed of the peloton, and it seemed a bunch sprint was in the cards.
But Christian Knees (Milram) and Martin Elmiger (AG2R) had other ideas. They formed a two-man attack that lasted until just over 2km to race, when Elmiger went off on his own as Knees tired.
The Swiss dug deep but soon had to resign himself to finishing off the podium when he was reeled in and dropped by the peloton, now led by Liquigas.
In the home straight Boasson Hagen’s team was looking strong at the front, but Farrar outdid them all with a late kick that allowed him to surge towards the finish line in triumph, where he beat the Norwegian by only centimeters.
Greipel left his sprint too late, finishing third and leaving the local fans disappointed. The last German to win the Cyclassics was sprint great Erik Zabel in 2001.
- 1. Tyler Farrar (USA), Garmin-Transitions, 216.6km in 5:02:36
- 2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor), Team Sky, same time
- 3. Andre Greipel (G), HTC-Columbia, s.t.
- 4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor), BMC Racing Team, s.t.
- 5. Allan Davis (Aus), Astana, s.t.