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Bookmakers seldom lose money and the odds they are offering for the forthcoming Hew-Cyclassics race are a good reflection of the men most likely to do well.
A quick look at the past winners of the race is an indication of the type of rider who succeeds over the course, (1996 winner Rossano Brasi and 1997 winner Jan Ullrich both won the race before it achieved World Cup Status).
1998 - Leon van Bon
1999 - Mirko Celestino
2000 - Gabriele Missaglia
2001 - Erik Zabel
2002 - Johan Museeuw
All are hard men of the road with the ability to cope with the short but nasty climbs of the Grotiusweg and Waseberg and have enough punch at the end of the race to see off their rivals.
Somewhat surprisingly the Bookies fancy hero of the Giro and 4 times stage winner of the Tour de France Alessandro Petacchi as their number 1 favourite at short odds of six to one. One of the few riders not confirmed to ride the final 44 kilometres might be a little too much for the speed merchant of La Spezia, however teammates Michele Bartoli and Filippo Pozzati are also high on the bookmakers odds.
Michele Bartoli comes into the race on a high. He is back (once again) from injury and has just won the Queen stage between Namur and Bouillon in the Tour de la Région Wallone, and leads the race.
As he said last night on his website -
"...today's route was more demanding. It was much suitable to me. But the day didn't start very well... The weather was bad and this morning in the starting area I lost my mobile! But I find the way to comfort me.
"Tomorrow I will cover the 185 km of the fourth stage from Houffalize to Aubel.
After many months here's the victory I waited for!
"The second part of the season couldn't start in a better way."
So the “Warrior's” confidence will be sky high and odds of 8 to one from the bookmakers reflect that.
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No Surprise that Johan Museeuw, last year's winner (9 -1), and Paolo Bettini (7-1) are high in the list of bookmakers' favourites. Currently number 1 rider in the World, Champion of Italy, and winner of the World Cup last season, a lot of so called cycling stars could learn a lot if they followed “Il Grillo’s” example. Rides all year, prepared, as he demonstrated in the Tour de France, to ride unselfishly for team mate Richard Virenque, and always a gentleman on and off the bike - if Bettini wins on Sunday he will be a popular victor.
Furthermore, Luca Paolini (14-1) and Tom Boonen (16-1) are also part of the highly favoured all star Quickstep team that should give the team an excellent chance of victory.
Former winner Erik Zabel is also rated highly at odds of 8 to one, and not surprisingly, with the team racing on home ground the Telekom team is impressively strong. Winner of the 2003 Gent-Wevelgem Andreas Klier is also fancied by the bookies at 16 to 1 and with support from Mario Aerts, Rolf Aldag, Matthias Kessler, Gian-Matteo Fagnini, Jan Schaffrath and Steffen Wesemann, the Telekom boys will certainly make their presence felt in the race.
Absolutely no surprise that Peter Van Petegem, current World Cup leader is highly fancied at odds of 10 to 1. The man from Opbrakel has taken the two biggest one day races of the north so far this year and will be determined to at least get a good placing to hold onto his lead in the World Cup standings. The Bookies also fancy team mate Robbie McEwen (11-1), however possibly the combination of climbs at the end of the race will once again prove to be a little too much for the pure fast men.
Jan Ullrich will be hoping that his astonishing comeback continues, and certainly team Bianchi will be hoping to do well in front of the huge crowds and across Europe live TV coverage. A perfect showcase for Ullrich and his Bianchi sponsors who are looking for a co-sponsor next season to capitalise on their great comeback to the peloton. Odds of 12 to 1 reflect that confidence in Ullrich is on the rise and that he may pull off a solo victory against the hard men of the Classics. Certainly his presence back in the peloton will be a huge boost to race promoters and media interest.
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A big surprise for U Postal fans will be that the Bookies have Max Van Heeswijk high up on the favourites list at 15-1, while George Hincapie, who had a solid ride in the race last year, finishing 5th, is not listed amongst the favourites. Possibly the Bookmakers are concerned that lack of one day racing this season for Hincapie may take its toll, however the team will surely ride for him so “Mad Max’s” high odds are a bookmakers mystery. The Postal team will consist of Michael Barry, Benoît Joachim, Steffen Kjaergaard, Guennadi Mikhailov, Max van Heeswijk and Matthew White, who are all currently competing in the Tour du Région Wallonne (click here) and Tour “veterans” Viatcheslav Ekimov and George Hincapie.
Danilo Di Luca leads the betting odds in a classy looking Saeco team that is very well placed in the World Cup competition as this press release illustrates -
Saeco super team at Hamburg on Sunday
A week after the Tour de France, the UCI World Cup competition is back this Sunday and Team Saeco will be out in force in the one-day classic.
After the great results of the team in other classics this season, Claudio Corti’s team is leading the team category and has three riders well placed in the individual classifications: Dario Pieri second overall, Mirko Celestino eighth, and Danilo Di Luca tenth.
All three will be in the Saeco team which will compete in the Hew-Cyclassic Cup in Hamburg, Germany on Sunday the sixth round of the ten-race series and first of the summer section of the World Cup. Mirko Celestino won the race in 1999 and so is especially motivated while Danilo Di Luca -an unlucky protagonist at the Tour de France, and Dario Pieri will be hoping for a successful return to racing.
The team directed by Giuseppe Martinelli is very strong with the likes of Igor Astarloa winner of the Fleche Wallone race, Italian champion Salvatore Commesso, Stefano Zanini and Jorg Ludewig a Tour finisher, all providing great back-up.
Not to be outdone another great Italian Classic team, Lampre have also announced their squad -
Sunday we see the start of the World Cup races once again with the Hew Classic of Hamburg, which will be the sixth world cup race for this year's calendar.
A race previously won by Gabriele Missaglia in 2000, Missaglia is once again in good form for this race, which we saw at the training camp in Salice Terme.
"I am positive about the rest of the season and I have to use this opportunity of good form for the rest of the season".
The General Manager of the team Lampre Giuseppe Saronni is in accordance with the selectors of the team for selecting the following riders for the 6th World Cup race of the season, the Hew Classic of Hamburg.
Sergio Barbero, Francesco Casagrande, Alessandro Cortinovis, Gabriele Missaglia, Manuel Quinziato, Eddy Ratti, Marco Serpellini, Maximilian Sciandri.
Sport Director: Maurizio Piovani
Michael Boogerd, second in the World Cup Rankings, will also be amongst the major players - Jan Boven, Bram de Groot, Maarten den Bakker, Steven de Jongh, Robert Hunter, Mathew Hayman and Marc Wauters make up the Rabobank team which will be looking to put Tour de France misery behind them and get back on the winning track. Certainly Boogerd, if he is bold enough, could make a big impression on this race.
Stuart O’Grady could continue his emergence as a classic rider, while that other Aussie and Green shirt wearer, Baden Cooke, deserves a little more respect than usual.
Always an interesting team to watch, with Julian Dean being the man of the moment. Quite incredible performance from his team today in the Tour de la Région Wallone to take the intermediate sprints and the stage to move into second on GC.
”Julian Dean rode incredibly well today. He showed us how strong he was yesterday, but I am still surprised that he was able to win all the sprints today. The team worked hard for Dean and Lars Michaelsen used his last energy to ride the final of the intermediate sprints for Dean just before he was dropped. In the final, Geert Van Bondt was the only one left to help, but he managed to give Dean a good position for the sprint. It was a very difficult sprint and the last two kilometres were uphill. I think it is safe to say that it is the strongest rider who wins today”, says directeur sportif Christian Andersen.
Julian Dean was very pleased with his own performance on today’s stage and he hopes that he will be able to snatch the overall victory on tomorrow’s final stage: “I have had great legs this week. With a little bit of luck, I will be able to take the overall victory tomorrow. But in order for that to happen, we have to take some responsibility in the peloton. However, we only have five riders so it may be difficult to keep the peloton together. I will put up a determined fight in order to make the most of my current good form and I believe that the victory is within reach”.
Julian Dean now looks forward to the World Cup race in Hamburg and he is confident that he will also be able to race for the victory on Sunday: “When you have good condition, you have good condition. I do not think that it will be a problem for me to recuperate for Sunday’s race. I believe that I am able to win the race but there are lots of tough competitors so it will not be easy. Museeuw and Van Petegem are both very strong and there are also many strong riders who have come out of the Tour de France with good condition. Still, with my current good form, I think that I will be one of the contenders”, says Julian Dean.
So an open race, a good parcours and an immense crowd. Wonder who will win...
Book Makers odds
PETACCHI Alessandro (ITA - FAS) 6.00
BETTINI Paolo (ITA - QSD) 7.00
BARTOLI Michele (ITA - FAS) 8.00
ZABEL Erik (GER - TEL) 8.00
MUSEEUW Johan (BEL - QSD) 9.00
VAN PETEGEM Peter (BEL - LOT) 10.00
McEWEN Robbie (AUS - LOT) 11.00
ULLRICH Jan (GER - TBI) 12.00
PAOLINI Luca (ITA - QSD) 14.00
VAN HEESWIJK Max (NED - USP) 15.00
KLIER Andreas (GER - TEL) 16.00
DI LUCA Danilo (ITA - SAE) 16.00
COOKE Baden (AUS - FDJ) 16.00
BOONEN Tom (BEL - QSD) 16.00
CELESTINO Mirko (ITA - SAE) 16.00
ASTARLOA Igor (SPA - SAE) 18.00
O'GRADY Stuart (AUS - C.A.) 18.00
VAINSTEINS Romans (LAT - VIN) 18.00
MISSAGLIA G (ITA - LAM) 18.00
CAMENZIND Oscar (ZWIT - PHO) 21.00
HUSHOVD Thor (NOR - C.A) 21.00
POZZATO Filippo (ITA - FAS) 21.00
BOOGERD Michael (NED - RAB) 26.00
COMMESSO Salvatore (ITA - SAE) 26.00
BALDATO Fabio (ITA - ALS) 30.00
World Cup Standings
1. Peter Van Petegem (BEL/Lotto-Domo) 200
2. Michael Boogerd (NED/Rabobank) 140
3. Dario Pieri (ITA/Saeco) 117
4. Tyler Hamilton (USA/CSC) 100
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (KZK/Telekom) 100
6. Paolo Bettini (ITA/Quick Step) 100
7. Frank Vandenbroucke (BEL/QuickStep) 92
8. Mirko Celestino (ITA/Saeco) 91
9. Serguei Ivanov (RUS/Fasso Bortolo) 79
10. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/Saeco) 74
11. Vjatceslav Ekimov (RUS/US Postal) 74
12. Iban Mayo (ESP/Euskatel) 70
13. Michele Scarponi (ITA/Domina Vacanze) 68
14. Francesco Casagrande (ITA/Domina Vacanze) 68
15. Stuart O'Grady (AUS/Crédit Agricole) 63
16. Luca Paolini (ITA/QuickStep) 59
17. Fabio Baldato (ITA/Alessio) 55
18. Erik Zabel (ALL/Telekom) 54
19. Davide Rebellin (ITA/Gerolsteiner) 53
20. Frédéric Guesdon (FRA/Fdjeux.com) 46