American Tyler Farrar made amends for leaving the Tour de France early due to injuries suffered in a crash by defending his title in the Vattenfall Cyclassics one-day race on Sunday.
Garmin-Transitions sprinter Farrar came into Germany's biggest one day race, held over 216.6 km and beginning and ending in Hamburg, warning that he would come under threat from local hope Andre Greipel.
But after a tense finale Farrar timed his final drive to perfection, emerging from the wheel of a Team Sky rider to keep Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen in second and HTC-Columbia sprinter Greipel in third.
In doing so, the American becomes the first rider to win back-to-back editions of the race, which was first held in 1996.
Farrar formed part of the main peloton as it approached the fourth and final ascension of the short Waseberg climb, whose summit was 16km from the finish line.
Just before the summit Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega-Pharma) formed a three-man chase group and went off in pursuit of an earlier three-man breakaway.
But as well as the driving rain, the trio were kept in check by a peloton which seemed intent on sticking together for as long as possible.
The counter-attack was eventually caught with just under 10km remaining, as Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank helped drive a chasing peloton in which Boasson Hagen's Sky team were also protagonists.
Soon it was time for the front trio to also bow to the superior speed of the peloton, as a bunch sprint increasingly became the likely outcome to the race.
Germany's Christian Knees (Milram) and Martin Elmiger (AG2R), however, had other ideas. They formed a two-man attack which lasted until just over two kilometres to race, when Elmiger went off on his own as Knees tired.
The Swiss dug deep but soon had to resign himself to finishing off the podium when he was reeled in and dropped by the Liquigas-led peloton.
In the home straight Boasson Hagen's team were looking strong at the front, but outdid them all with a late kick which allowed him to surge towards the finish line in triumph, where he beat the Norwegian by only centimetres.
Greipel left his sprint too late, finishing third and leaving the local fans disappointed. The last German to win the Cyclassics was sprint great Erik Zabel in 2001.
© AFP 2010
|1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions||5:02:36|
|2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|3 André Greipel (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia|
|4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team|
|5 Allan Davis (Aus) Astana|
|6 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo|
|7 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank|
|8 Enrique Mata (Spa) Footon-Servetto|
|9 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|10 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team|
|11 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux|
|12 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto|
|13 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux|
|14 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram|
|15 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick Step|
|16 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank|
|17 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|18 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team|
|19 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux|
|20 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano|
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.