There were already 100 professional cyclists riding in the premiere of Hamburg’s big bike race for pros and all comers, in 1996, among them sprint ace Erik Zabel, who indeed in 2001 made the list of Winners.
But it was Jan Ullrich who initially gave the sport an enormous boost in popularity in Germany in 1997 in achieving his "double": winning the Tour de France and the 1997 Hamburg event, at the time called the HEW Cyclassics. The Hamburg promotion reached a milestone in 1998 when it obtained World Cup status.
Since 2005, the pro race has been a part of the sport’s peak competition, the UCI ProTour. For this reason, the event is considered to be one of the sport’s major one-day cycling races world-wide. That it is deservedly part of the ProTour despite its comparatively short history is well illustrated by race director Roland Hofer, who emphasises: “Although the race profile may appear more suitable for the sprinters, it can ultimately be won by all types of great rider, and it’s exactly this kind of race that’s needed for a well-balanced ProTour.”
Since the merger of the event’s title sponsors, the Hamburg Electricity Works Corp. (HEW) and the Berlin Power & Light Co. (Bewag), forming "Vattenfall Europe" in 2006, the event has been renamed the Vattenfall Cyclassics.