The UCI World Cup is beginning to hot up once more and with only four events remaining it’s time for 25 teams of riders to ship themselves off to Germany for a 251 km slog around the streets of Hamburg. This time last year the overall standings were all but over when Gabriel Missaglia won a bunch sprint. However this year there’s a hell of a lot more to play for.
Erik Dekker’s lead has already been cut into and there’s no reason why the likes of David Rebellin and Francisco Casagrande cant slash even further into it. Both of the Italians have the form to turn things around and stop the Rabobank rider from getting his hands on the teams first overall win in the competition.
Romans Vainstains is another rider in with a shout of victory. The World Champion hasn’t grabbed a major victory this year and he’s running out of time in the rainbow jersey. With the likely outcome of a sprint finish, he’s certainly in with a chance.
Spare a thought for Tour de France points winner Erik Zabel though. He’s racing in front of a home crowd and there’s no reason why his super strong Telekom team wont lead him all the way to another sprint victory.
One rider who also has more than an outside chance of success is the Mercury rider Leon Van Bon. The Dutchman won the event back in 1998 and has the power to stay with the bunch over long distances. He’ll still be smarting over his team’s non-participation in the Tour and may come up with the goods this Sunday.
After an illness endured season Tom Steels will also be hoping for a good results. On paper he’s the fastest rider taking part, but the big question is over his fitness.