It is well known that life does not begin at the age of 60, but it is not too late for an abundance of new life.

This is how it goes with the traditional Eschborn – Frankfurt cycle race, which this year has a new look not only in a new season, but also due to the pandemic.

The anniversary edition of the classic bike was two and a half years long in coming, now the starting gun for the sixtieth will be given on Sunday next week.

When it became clear that May 1st, as in the previous year, would not allow a major sporting event, the race day was postponed to September 19th.

An appointment that required a lot of coordination with the municipalities along the route and a special permit from the UCI World Cycling Association - but now even benefits enormously from a sporting point of view.

Because the field of drivers in professional racing has not been of such well-known quality for many years.

Quality in the field

The Taunus loop has become a magnet for various stars of the peloton because it is now exactly one week before the men's world championship race. The total of 13 WorldTour teams - more than ever before at Eschborn – Frankfurt - send many racing drivers to Rhine-Main for a final stress test. Because the one-week title fights in Flanders began on September 19 and normally no competing professional events are allowed, special permission was required. “The quality of the field is a game changer compared to other years. It could be that something is driven differently than before, ”said Oberursel-based professional John Degenkolb on Thursday at a press conference in Eschborn.

Even though his victory in Frankfurt was ten years ago, the local hero on his doorstep is one of the favorites again. "At home races on your own training tracks, the motivation and willingness to give more than 100 percent is particularly pronounced," said Degenkolb. But the 32-year-old has to deal with the concentrated power of the Bora-hansgrohe team on the 187.4-kilometer route. The top German team is sending Nils Politt, the most successful German professional of the year, into the race on which the local hopes for the World Cup are based.

If there is a sprint decision, the racing team is well positioned with Pascal Ackermann, who triumphed in the last edition of the bike race in 2019 in front of the Alte Oper.

In addition, the two climbers Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad come, rather intended for helper tasks.

Alongside Politt, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Austrian Konrad is one of four stage winners of this year's Tour de France on the upgraded Taunus loop.

Stripped down version

Other illustrious names on the starting list are the former world champion Mads Pedersen, the former Roubaix winner Philippe Gilbert, the Olympic champion from Rio, Greg van Avermaet, and old master Vincenzo Nibali, Tour Champion of 2014. Of course, the Frankfurt series winner Alexander Kristoff will also be - unstoppable in downtown Frankfurt from 2014 to 2018 - be there again. Sprinter André Greipel will probably contest his last race in Germany on his farewell tour from professional cycling.

While the elite race, which has to master the Mammolshainer stitch in Königstein four times on the proven course, is well filled for the anniversary edition, the bike race has to slim down in many other places for the birthday. In times of pandemic, the organizer appeals to spectators not to watch the race on the track, but at home on television.

The hr television broadcasts live for five hours. Along the course there will be neither event areas nor track festivals with music, food and screens with race broadcasts. “The core DNA,” emphasizes head of organization Nathanael Bank, “will remain in place.” So, although not 17 on a race day, as before, there will be nine starting shots. The U-23 race, which is highly valued in the scene, and the junior competition will be dispensed with this year.

On the circuit in the city of Frankfurt, however, races for licensed children in the age groups U11 to U17 are held. In the Velo-Tour, the everyone's format from Eschborn – Frankfurt, the number of participants for 2019 (6300 hobby riders) could even be achieved. Around 5500 pedals are currently registered - for the sixtieth birthday of the bike race and the twentieth of the Velo-Tour.

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