Paris - Tour de France standouts Geraint Thomas and Julian Alaphilippe will go wheel to wheel at the Tour of Germany starting Thursday.
Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France winner, came in second in this year's edition for Team Ineos and was pivotal in securing the win for his teammate, Egan Bernal.
Deceuninck Quick-Step's Alaphilippe triggered hopes of a long-awaited French victory after spending 14 days in yellow in this year's Tour. He eventually finished fifth, but not before winning 'the most combative rider' award.
Both riders opted to skip the Vuelta this year and have set their sights on tackling the Tour of Germany.
A four stage race that starts in Hanover and ends in Erfut on Sunday, it kicks off with a stage suited to the sprinters before three more stages on hillier terrain.
In addition to Alaphilippe and Thomas, Vincenzo Nibali, Australia's Richie Porte and local star Emanuel Buchmann will take part just one month away from the World Cycling Championships that will be held in Yorkshire, northern England.
Deceuninck Quick-Step manager Davide Bramati said: "We will have a strong team at the start, some of the guys will be back in the competition after a tough Tour de France, but they will have the same motivation as the rest of the team."
This year's route will pay tribute to the fall of the Berlin wall, marking its 30th anniversary in November.
The course will crisscross the route of the former 'Iron Curtain', the formidable border which divided East and West Germany.
Last year, Slovenia's Matej Mohoric won the event ahead of Germany's Nils Politt and Maximilian Schachmann.
Reintroduced in 2018, the race was abandoned for nearly a decade following a slew of doping scandals.