Spain?s Oscar Freire (Rabobank) stopped Germany?s Erik Zabel (Milram) winning his first big race of 2006 with a late burst to the line at the end of 243km Vattenfall Cyclassic race in Germany on Sunday.
Zabel won the first stage of the Bayern-Rundfahrt in Germany in the spring but has always been beaten in the big sprints. He looked set to win in Hamburg as he powered past 2005 winner Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step) but then Freire (pictured) came off his wheel in the final metres to win by less than half a wheel. The photo finish showed the gap, with Pozzato just a little further back.
?I was behind Zabel in the sprint but got passed him at the right moment,? Freire said.
?We were all equally strong and in the end we could only throwing our bikes to the line, it was the last three metres that decided who had won. Zabel told me that I?d got it, but I wasn’t too sure and only believed it when I the photo finish. After two stages in the Tour de France this is another big win for me because this is a classic.?
The German one-day race was decided in the sprint after two serious attacks were caught. Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) made a good move with Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) the first time over the Waseberg climb. When they were caught six others got away the second time of the climb, including Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Luca Paolini (Liquigas) but they were pulled back by a front group of 40 riders with seven kilometres to go.
Zabel was perfectly placed for the sprint but yet again was beaten to the line and had to accept second place.
David Millar (Saunier Duval) showed he had quickly recovered from the Tour de France by riding strongly in the final kilometres and finishing in the front group.
Photo: Offside/Wilfried Witters