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With a powerful sprint in Nürnberg, Degenkolb beat Selig and Bennett to win the final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt; Dowsett won the race overall

Photo: Sirotti

ALEX DOWSETT

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BAYERN-RUNDFAHRT 

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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RUDIGER SELIG

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SAM BENNETT

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TEAM SUNWEB

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TIAGO MACHADO

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17.05.2015 @ 15:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After the disappointment in stage 3, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was back on the top step of the podium when he took his second win of the race on the final stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt. The German emerged as the fastest in the bunch sprint where he held off Rudiger Selig (Katusha) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) while Alex Dowsett finished safely in the peloton to take the overall victory.

 

Due to the doping issue, the German racing scene has almost vanished but there are still a few opportunities left for the German riders to race in their home country. Bayern Rundfahrt is the only major stage race but as it has usually been held in late May, it has always been impossible for local star John Degenkolb to do the race at a time when he is usually training at altitude.

 

This year the race is held two weeks earlier than usual and this has allowed Degenkolb to take a rare chance to ride on home soil as he has chosen the race to return to competition after the classics. And it has been a perfect comeback for the Paris-Roubaix winner.

 

Degenkolb came up short in the first sprint stage where he had to settle for third but one day later he found back to his winning ways when he powered clear to beat Nacer Bouhanni on stage 2. However, he made a mistake in the uphill sprint on stage 3 and was hugely frustrated to have missed out in a stage that suited him perfectly.

 

That left him with just one chance to take another stage victory in today’s final sprint stage to Nürnberg and today there were no errors for the fast German. After his team had worked hard to bring back the early escape, it all came down to the expected sprint where Giant-Alpecin were ready to strike.

 

However, their train seemed to have lost the battle for position in the final kilometre as it was Bora-Argon 18 and Cofidis who dominated the front, trying to set up Sam Bennett and Nacer Bouhanni for the sprint. However, they both had to settle for minor positions as Degenkolb powered clear to hold off Rüdiger Selig and Bennett to take his second victory in the race.

 

However, the big winner was a Brit. Alex Dowsett went into the stage with a two-second lead over Tiago Machado (Katusha) and the Portuguese didn’t manage to score any bonus seconds. Hence, the Movistar captain took his first ever stage race victory while Machado and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) completed the podium.

 

With the win, Degenkolb also won the sprints competition while Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka) won the mountains competition. Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) was best young rider and his team also won the teams competition.

 

There may not be a lot of races in Germany but the month of May is an active one. On May 31, the German one-day race Velothon Berlin will offer the sprinters another chance to shine.

 

A flat stage

After the important time trial, the Bayern Rundfahrt ended with its traditional finish in Nürnberg. The 197.8km stage brought the riders from Hassfurt to the big German city and was a mostly flat affair. After a tough start with a categorized climb, the stage hit mostly flat terrain before it got to the 5.1km finishing circuit that had a very small category 2 climb. It would be completed 10 times before the race was expected to be decided in a bunch sprint.

 

Theo Reinhardt (Rad-Net), Martin Reimer (LKT) and Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty) were the non-starters when the peloton gathered in Hassfurt. They had again nice weather conditions when they headed out for their neutral ride. As soon as they got to the real start, the pace was fast with lots of attacks.

 

The break is formed

First an 11-rider group managed to get an advantage and when they were brought back, Jonas Koch and Mike Terpstra (Roompot) gave it a go. However, Movistar also brought that duo back.

 

After 8km of racing, Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Christian Mager (Cult, Brayan Ramirez (Colombia), Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty) and Huub Duijn (Roompot) got an advantage and as they had built an advantage of 20 seconds, the peloton slowed down. Movistar set a steady pace that allowed the gap to grow to 13.0 after 15km of racing.

 

Movistar in control

Veuchelen beat Meintjes and Vorganov in the first KOM sprint where the peloton had been distanced by 3.20. It went out to 3.40 but Movistar did not want the situation to get out of control and they kept it between 2.45 and 3.40 for a while.

 

It was a very calm race for most of the day, with Movistar just tapping out a steady tempo. As they went through the feed zone, the gap was still 3.05 and this was the signal for Cofidis and Giant-Alpecin to take over the pace-setting.

 

Sprint points for Vorganov

With 96km to go, the peloton had brought the gap down to 2.35 but the escapees were ready to respond. With a big acceleration, they extended the gap to 3.45 before Vorganov beat Meintjes and Duijn in the first intermediate sprint.

 

Vorganov was faster than Ramirez and Meintjes in the second sprint at the 114km mark and here they had added another 15 seconds to their advantage. Movistar now stepped up the gas and as they entered the final 60km, the gap was only 2.45.

 

KOM points for Veuchelen

As the riders entered the finishing circuit, Veuchelen and Meintjes attacked on the small climb and it was the Belgian who led the South African over the top. The group came back together but as they went up the climb for the second time, Veuchelen attacked again. Again he led Meintjes over the top and then the group came back together.

 

At the 150km mark, the gap was still 2.15 and it was still Movistar setting the pace. Meanwhile, Veuchelen again attacked the front group to lead Meintjes over the top of the climb.

 

The chase gets organized

Bora-Argon 18 joined forces with Movistar to keep the gap at 2.15 while Veuchelen led Mager over the top of the climb to win the next KOM sprint after he had made another attack. As Cofidis also came to the fore, the gap dropped to less than 2 minutes with less than 40km to go.

 

Veuchelen beat Mentijes in the final KOM sprint to win the mountains competition at a point when the gap had been brought down to 1.18 by Bora-Argon 18 and Cofidis. Later Vorganov beat Ramirez and Mager in the final intermediate sprint.

 

The break splits up

With 5 laps to go, the gap was only 1.02 and now Giant-Alpecin and Bora-Argon 18 set the pace. Meanwhile, lead-out man Tom Veelers (Giant-Alpecin) left the race.

 

The peloton shaved another 22 seconds off the lead during the next lap and this was the signal for Mager to attack. Meanwhile, Veuchelen, Meintjes and Ramirez sat up.

 

The break is caught

Giant-Alpecin were now in complete control while Vorganov and Duijn rejoined Mager. The German quickly dropped back to the peloton, leaving just Vorganov and Duijn to press on.

 

At the start of the penultimate lap, the gap was 11 seconds and now Southeast and Bora-Argon 18 rode on the front. With 7km to go, they brought the escapees back.

 

Roompot took control and they led the peloton onto the final lap. They were passed by the big sprint trains and as they entered the final kilometre, Cofidis and Bora-Argon 18 had won the battle. However, it was Degenkolb who came out on top.

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