Defending champion Alexander Kristoff claimed his fourth straight Eschborn-Frankfurt title on Tuesday.
The Norwegian rider outsprinted Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) in the final metres of the 211.8 kilometre race around Frankfurt, with Olivier Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) snatching the third spot on the podium.
But for the reigning European champion, who owns two stages from the Tour de France as well as titles from Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, said the 57th edition of the race previously known as the Frankfurt GP was one to remember.
“This edition had more climbing than normal and I knew it’d be harder. In the second loop, I didn’t feel so strong and I was about dropped, but thanks to Troia and Ganna, I was able to hang in there,” he said.
“In the last two laps on the traditional circuit, my feelings changed and I began to believe in the win.
“The team worked very well from the start and in the final with Team Quick-Step to bring in the escapees.
“In the sprint, the Belgian team took control of the situation until Gaviria made a mistake on the last curve, which certainly helped things.”
The 30-year-old has now won the Eschborn-Frankfurt a record four times having done so in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
The 2015 edition of the race was cancelled the day before it was due to take place following a reported terrorist threat.
Best for UAE Team Emirates in this edition were: Alexandr Riabushenko (24th), Simone Consonni (42nd), Sven Erik Bystrøm (49th) and Roberto Ferrari (61st).
UAE Team Emirates’ Alexander Kristoff will step up as team leader once again at a race he has dominated during its last three editions.
The Norwegian sprinter has now stood on the top step of the Eschborn Frankfurt podium three times, winning the race in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Kristoff will be supported by a strong team, which includes his fellow countryman Sven Erik Bystom, an Italian quartet of Filippo Ganna, Oliverio Troia, Simone Consonni and Roberto Ferrari along with the promising young Belarussian Alexandr Riabushenko.
Commenting ahead of the one day classic, the 30-year-old said: “I think the race will be difficult for me to win this year as the course will be shorter and more demanding.
“However, I have a good relationship with Eschborn-Frankfurt and I’d love to make history by becoming the first ever rider to take top spot four times in a row.”
The Eschborn-Frankfurt Classic, which is the most iconic cycling race in Germany, sees riders take on the challenging Taunus Hills as they battle 212kms of road and over 3,500 vertical meters of climbing.
Elsewhere, Roberto Ferrari raced to a podium finish on the final stage of the Tour de Romandie on Saturday and helped UAE Team Emirates win its first Team Classification of the season.
Rui Costa, Daniel Martin and Kristijan Durasek closed out the General Classification in fifth, 10th and 15th respectively, with Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic (Lotto NL-Jumbo) clinching the overall title.
Team leader Martin said: “It was a good week in view of my season’s goal, the Tour de France. As a team, we’re happy with the overall classification, and thrilled that we were able to get on the podium as the best team in this edition of the Tour de Romandie.”
UAE TEAM EMIRATES LINE-UP: Kristoff (Norway), Bystom (Norway), Ganna (Italy), Troia (Italy), Consonni (Italy), Ferrari (Italy), Riabushenko (Belarus)
The event is seen as the second most important race in cycling – behind the Tour de France – and favours strong climbers and puncheurs.
The 27-year-old Sardinian, who finished second in the 2015 edition of the race, will be supported by an experienced team in Italy including compatriots Diego Ullisi, Valerio Conti, Manuele Mori and Marco Marcato.
Joining them will be the promising trio of Jan Polanc, Darwin Atapuma and Vegard Stake Laengen.
Aru, who achieved a season’s best top-six finish at the Tour of Alps last week, will be among the favourites to win the Giro.
UAE Team Emirates General Manager Giuseppe Saronni said: “Fabio is going to the Giro d’Italia with a huge desire to make an impact. This feeling of strong sentiment towards the Corsa Rosa will allow him to give his best in every situation.
“At his side are a group of riders who share the same emotions and are able to manage the possible scenarios correctly.
“Four Italians in our team give this roster a strong local flavour to honour the Giro d’Italia and give the most attention to our fifth Italian Fabio Aru.
“The three non-Italians Atapuma, Laengen and Polanc have shown their love for this race and their ability to contribute to the group.
“Let’s not forget that these riders know about success, just think of the six stage wins by Ulissi, two by Polanc and three by Aru.”
Line-up: Fabio Aru (Italy), Matteo Bono (Italy), Manuele Mori (Italy), Jan Polanc (Slovenia), Diego Ulissi (Italy), Valerio Conti (Italy), Darwin Atapuma (Colombia) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)