May 1 - 50th Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt (1.1)

It's time once again for one of my favourite little races. The former Rund um den Henninger Turm (briefly also Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop) is perhaps the biggest traditional one-day race in Germany, held on May 1 every year and looping around the picturesque Taunus Mountains. It holds a special place in my heart because it was here that my love of cycling was born - I used to live on the race route.

The distance is 203km, and the route is not an easy one either. The biggest obstacle that the riders will have to face is the Großer Feldberg, which is a long but gradual climb of just over 20km in length from Oberursel. Expect more of a selection to be made on the short but much more brutal Mammolshain, which reaches gradients of up to 26%. This is followed by the Bittelhöhe, before a second loop finishing with the Mammolshain before the descent into the city of Frankfurt itself. The finishing circuit in the city centre is pancake flat, finishing just outside the picturesque Alte Oper, but a chicane on the route about 500m out may derail potential sprint options - it was decisive last year.

The last 10 winners:
2010 Fabian Wegmann (GER)
2009 Fabian Wegmann (GER)
2008 Karsten Kroon (NED)
2007 Patrik Sinkewitz (GER)
2006 Stefano Garzelli (ITA)
2005 Erik Zabel (GER)
2004 Karsten Kroon (NED)
2003 Davide Rebellin (ITA)
2002 Erik Zabel (GER)
2001 Markus Zberg (SUI)

This shows what a varied race it can be!

The race has actually gone down in status this year, to .1 from .HC, probably as a reaction to the less stellar fields it has attracted in the last couple of years. However, this year's entry list is pleasantly surprising, with 24 teams entered, of which 6 are World Tour and 10 are ProContinental, and some very big names in the sport such as Mark Cavendish entered - if he can survive the climbs he will be a favourite, but it's easier said than done as last year Columbia were totally undone trying to fight for Tony Martin (who was isolated early in attacks by Milram) and André Greipel (who couldn't hack the pace on the Mammolshain), especially as few teams will be willing to take it to a sprint without thinning the bunch a lot first.

Teams entered:

Leopard Trek (Wegmann, Weylandt, Nizzolo, Voigt)
HTC-High Road (Bak, Cavendish, Eisel, Degenkolb, Velits)
Ag2r (Dessel, Elmiger)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (Bakelants, Vanendert)
Rabobank (Boom, Bos, Martens, Matthews)
Vacansoleil (Bozic, Hoogerland, Marcato)
Acqua e Sapone
CCC Polsat-Polkowice
Cofidis (Duque, Saramotins, Sijmens)
Landbouwkrediet (De Waele, Dockx, Traksel)
Saur-Sojasun (Mangel, Simon)
Skil-Shimano (Fröhlinger, Geniez, Geschke, Reimer)
NetApp (Cozza, Dietziker)
TopSport Vlaanderen (Cornu, Van Hecke)
Verandas Willems
LKT Team Brandenburg
Nutrixxion-Sparkasse (Janorschke, Müller, Radochla)
Eddy Merckx-Indeland
Seven Stones
NSP (Eichler, Fothen & Fothen)
TT Raiko-Argon 18
Germany National Team (Ciolek, Hondo, Burghardt, Stauff, Nerz)

The finish was moved from the Sachsenhausen district south of the river last year with the cessation of Henninger sponsorship, and so I will post last year's top 10 as the only properly representative results list:
1. [GER] WEGMANN Fabian MRM 4h53'22"
6. [FRA] LEVARLET Guillaume SAU

Last year the race was covered free, live and online from start to finish.
Libertine Seguros said:
The race has actually gone down in status this year, to .1 from .HC, probably as a reaction to the less stellar fields it has attracted in the last couple of years.
I've just read that it has to do with the date - they rather lose their status or attract less riders than change the date of the event. It's all about the race and it's history, not so much about the participants.
It's possible, but this is a much tougher route than the Rund um Köln. The race was trimmed down to a group of about 25 last year. I'd certainly expect him to be among the last fast men dropped, so if he can make it over he could well have the fastest finish of those left. But the finish isn't easy. Wegmann went at 500m to go last year at the chicane and got just enough separation to make the others expend too much energy chasing on to launch past him in the sprint, which also turns slightly left in the last 100m. I'd certainly say Eisel is the biggest threat of the HTC team rather than Cavendish because, like with Greipel last year, I will be very surprised if Cavendish can hold on over Mammolshain, though with the Velits brothers and Albasini he may have enough engines to pull him back.

Saur-Sojasun's Julien Simon has a pretty good sprint on him - won a stage of the Volta last year before the most ridiculous DQ I've ever seen, almost charity to give Barbosa a stage before his whining destroyed the whole of Portugal in one fell swoop - and he went on a solo break in the closing kilometres of last year's race, so he can definitely handle the route.

Of the pure sprinters I expect Bozic and Duque to be the ones who last out the climbs best, but Leopard will want to make the race hard to give Wegmann a chance of tripling up, while Boom, Martens and Hoogerland will all be worth keeping an eye on as they will likely animate proceedings if on form too.
search said:
I've just read that it has to do with the date - they rather lose their status or attract less riders than change the date of the event. It's all about the race and it's history, not so much about the participants.
Yea, May 1 for the Frankfurt race is sacrosanct and I applaud the organisers for their sticking to tradition.

I just think it's interesting that dropping status has actually led to a better field; apart from the (strong-looking) German national team, every single team in the race could have entered while it was 1.HC.
Dec 15, 2010
Expect to see a fierce battle in the espoirs race too. UCI 1.2U. It appears they will do one less lap to reduce distance by 60km?
Jan 11, 2010
hrotha said:
It's a bit of a joke that this is no longer .HC while Turkey is. I'm all for globalization, but you can't force globalization down our throats, you need to build up the races first.
The Tour of Turkey has actually been around since the sixties, just like the Henninger Finanz Travesty or whatever it's called right now.
Jan 11, 2010
hrotha said:
But it's not been a top-level race until recently. You can see how seriously the peloton is taking it.
Oh you're right, Henniger Turm is probably a little more prestigious, although it's mostly a race for those who didn't get anything out of the Ardennes classics (usually, that's Karsten Kroon).
Turkey was more interesting in 2008 and 2009, before the big teams came with sprint trains. How many stages did Greipel win last year, despite Cofidis and ISD trying their utmost to make things interesting?

Frankfurt is a good race. Is it a bit of a consolation prize for those who didn't do well in the Ardennes? Guess so. I wish the finishing circuit wasn't so flat but I also know for a fact that there aren't too many places within the city itself you could find a gradient to use. They use the Taunus mountains well and it means you have the potential for nearly every type of rider to feel like they have a chance.

The list of winners shows that the race has a storied history and is a respected part of the calendar. It's Germany's biggest one-day race (or was until Cyclassics was arbitrarily made ProTour, since a race around the flats of Hamburg is a bit nondescript in comparison). The startlist is pretty good this year after a few years of stagnating.

Plus of course, I have a soft spot for it as it's what kickstarted my cycling fandom.
Jan 7, 2011
I agree this is a great race and I like the fact that you don't know what type of rider will win - best German race in my opinion - Vattenfalls favours the sprinters slightly too much. Its a shame it doesn't get that great a field - it would be nice to have a sort of german cycling week after ardennes week were the top ardennes riders ride as for such a big cycling nation they don't have many top races.

Matthews for the win for me - he's a good enough climber to get over the hils.
The thing with Matthews is that he is a good enough climber to get over the hills (and likely has a good enough team to get him back if the steepness more than the length hurts him on Mammolshain, but they may elect not to help him if they feel Martens is a good shout for the win), but he is coming to the end of quite a long early-season, and the field here is rather stronger than the one at Köln in a tougher race, so I'm hedging my bets regarding him.

Anyway, the good news is that, just like last year, the entire race, start to finish, will be broadcast online, so keep the following link handy for Sunday:
Jan 11, 2010
I don't know if Matthews will make it over the hills in the front group (I don't think so actually) but it appears he is approaching his second peak of form, after the very early season. I think the Tour of California is on the cards for him.