Big challenges for German sprinters

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, CYCLING

DOHA: Germany will try to end a fifty-year drought in the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships - Doha 2016 when the event commences on 9 October in Qatar’s capital. 

Rudi Altig was the last German to take the most desired rainbow jersey, when he crossed the line first on home soil at the Nürburgring in 1966. The flat Doha course of 2016 will favour the German sprinters, but the squad faces more than one challenge.

With John Degenkolb, Andre Greipel and Marcel Kittel Germany have three sprinting powerhouses. Coach Jan Schaffrath has yet to decide whether he will appoint one target man or not, let alone who the possible front man will be. Degenkolb will probably settle for a role as helper and back-up anchor, but both Greipel and Kittel want to be on top. 

"It would be counter-productive to go there with two captains," Greipel told German press agency DPA.

"It’s a difficult situation for Marcel and me… The course in Qatar is good for both of us, but it is not to be underestimated: It will be about 40 degrees, strong wind and 260 kilometres."

Besides the captaincy question, Germany has another issue to tackle. After being allowed to enter nine riders in last year’s road race, the BDR can only start six men in the 2016 competition. Team quotas are decided for each year’s Championship by the UCI, based on the UCI World Ranking by nation, UCI Continental Circuits rankings by nation, and individual UCI World Ranking. 

With a smaller squad than most other major cycling countries, the German sprinters will have less domestiques to protect and help them on the big open roads in the 257.5 kilometre race. Other elite sprinters like Mark Cavendish (GBR), Australian youngster Caleb Ewan and Dutch prodigy Dylan Groenewegen will anchor a nine-men squad.

France and Italy will enter nine-men teams too, but they have their own captaincy questions. With Nacer Bouhanni, Bryan Coquard et Arnaud Démare, the French have to choose between three fast sprinters, while Italy coach Davide Cassani has to yet make up his mind about Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo.

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