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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

First Edition Cycling News for April 15, 2005

Edited by Anthony Tan

Amstel Gold preview: Rebellin back for another crack at gold

By Jeff Jones

Davide Rebellin wins the 2004 Amstel
Photo ©: Sirotti

The 40th Amstel Gold Race will be the fifth race of the seven ProTour spring classics, and takes place on Sunday, April 17. It's the only Dutch major classic, and will be run over the usual parcours through the Limburg hills in the south of Holland, starting from Maastricht and finishing atop the Cauberg in Valkenburg. The 251 km route lacks cobbles, but is challenging enough with the inclusion of 31 short, steep climbs.

Last year's winner was Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), who went onto achieve a remarkable triple by winning both La Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the following week, becoming the first rider to win these three classics in the same year. This year, Rebellin is also targeting these races, and is nearing the top of his condition after finishing second, just three seconds behind Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi), in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco last week. Di Luca can also be counted among the favourites for Sunday, as he finished fourth last year and third in 2003, and is set to go a couple of steps higher on the podium.

Last year's runner up in both Amstel and Liege was Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), who has an impressive record in this race: one victory (1999), three second places, and one third. He has had a quiet build up to the race this year, hampered by sickness, but should be ready for the Battle on the Cauberg on Sunday. Rabobank also has Erik and Thomas Dekker, as well as Oscar Freire in its lineup, and looks to be one of the strongest teams on paper.

Click here to read the full preview
Start list
Past winners

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 40th Amstel Gold Race live from start to finish. Coverage starts at 10:15 CEST (Europe)/4:15 EDT (USA East)/1:15 PDT (USA West)/18:15 AEST (Australia East).

Hondo fired

After returning a positive B sample that proved use of the illegal drug Carphedon, Gerolsteiner rider Danilo Hondo has been fired by team management, effective immediately. Hondo was suspended by his team last Wednesday after twice testing positive during the Vuelta a Murcia in March this year.

ANP reports the UCI have confirmed the positive test result, with Hondo suspended from racing for two years. According to the UCI's ProTour Code of Ethics - which Team Gerolsteiner is a signed member - the 31 year-old will be prohibited from signing with any ProTour team for another two years, effectively ending his career.

Said a team statement issued yesterday afternoon: "We regret the personal situation of Danilo Hondo, but stand by our support of all measures against doping, which is also reflected in our contractual agreements [with the UCI]."

Alby's alright

By Anthony Tan

No worries, mate: No broken bones for Allan Davis
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

Although reported to have broken his collarbone following his crash at last Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, a few questions were raised when Allan Davis' name was seen just below that of Alessandro Petacchi after Wednesday's opening stage of the Vuelta a Aragon in Spain. So Cyclingnews decided to ask the man himself: miraculous three-day recovery or no broken bones?

"Nah, I'm alright, mate, no broken bones," said Davis in his typically laid-back Aussie drawl. "Just a bit of niggling with the bruise on my knee, but nothing too drastic... I'm fine, no dramas."

"I just went down in a wet pavé section, and hit my knee and elbow quite hard," he explained about the pile-up that also took down pre-race favourite Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) in pavé sector 21 at roughly the 128 kilometre mark. "At first, I thought something was wrong with the elbow, but I went and got checked out to make sure nothing was broken, and it turned out to be alright."

The spill was a bad turn of luck for the 23 year-old Queenslander, who contracted a stomach bug at the Three Days of De Panne two weeks before Roubaix, leaving him below his best for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem, where he finished 70th place in the latter event, almost seven minutes down on winner Nico Mattan. "Really, the first day I felt okay again was Roubaix," said Davis.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Experienced Amstel line-up for T-Mobile

T-Mobile is sending a solid and experienced line-up of Classics specialists to contest the Amstel Gold Race this Sunday, with Alexandre Vinokourov, Matthias Kessler, Steffen Wesemann and Erik Zabel leading the charge.

For rookie pro Bas Giling, however, the 2005 edition of Amstel will be his first, but the race parcours will be familiar territory for the young Dutchman - he lives just five kilometres from Maastricht and claims to knows every climb and curve along the 250km route that crosses Limburg, the hilly southern region sandwiched between Germany and Belgium.

"I know every climb on this course. I train regularly on these hills," said Giling, whose strong rides in recent weeks have earned him the nod of approval from sporting director Mario Kummer.

Kessler has said he feels at home on the rolling parcours, with the 25 year-old German rider finishing fifth and sixth in the last two editions of the race, which starts in Maastricht and finishes in Valkenberg.

"There is good depth to our challenge," said T-Mobile press officer Luuc Eisenga.

"In Kessler, we have a rider who has already demonstrated how much he likes the parcours here. But it pays to be cautious. What makes the race so tricky is the fact that you never have more than 5km of flat," he said.

"The constant changes of direction make it difficult for the riders to know where the wind is coming from," continued Eisenga, who is expecting another gripping finale in the race. "But they have to stay focused, so that they still have enough in the tank for the last climb up the Cauberg."

Gerolsteiner, Illes Balears & Quick.Step for Amstel

Davide Rebellin will be back to defend his crown at Sunday's Amstel Gold Race, with last year's win the beginning of a historic triple for 'Tintin', where the 33 year-old went on to take victories in La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, all within the space of a week.

Gerolsteiner: Heinrich Haussler, Andrea Moletta, Davide Rebellin, Ronny Scholz, Fabian Wegmann, Peter Wrolich, Markus Zberg, Thomas Ziegler
Directeur-sportif: Christian Henn

One rider who could definitely make his mark after his excellent performances at the Vuelta a Pais Vasco is Alejandro Valverde from Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne; the team's line-up is as follows:

Illes Balears: José Luis Arrieta, Chente García, Cayetano Julià, Francisco Mancebo, Vicente Reynés, Alejandro Valverde, Xabier Zandio
Directeur-sportif: Eusebio Unzúe

Challenging Rebellin from the Quick.Step camp will be Paolo Bettini, who will head the team's line-up on Sunday. No doubt, the team hopes to continue their brilliant run of success after Tom Boonen's victories at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Quick.Step: Paolo Bettini, Ad Engels, Kevin De Weert, Marc Lotz, Filippo Pozzato, Patrik Sinkewitz, Bram Tankink, Rik Verbrugghe
Directeur-sportif: Serge Parsani

Sinkewitz almost a DNS

By Susan Westemeyer

Quick.Step's Patrik Sinkewitz almost thought he wouldn't make it to the Amstel Gold Race this coming weekend, when he was briefly taken into police custody as a suspect in a robbery. On Wednesday this week, a man held up a clothing store in Fulda, Germany, before fleeing. Shortly after police arrived on the scene, they began following the 24 year-old Sinkewitz.

"I was going to go get a haircut, when someone pulled on the back of my jacket," he recalled. "It was three policemen, who searched me rather ungently. I immediately thought: 'What am I going to tell my boss, when I'm sitting in jail?'"

Fortunately, events didn't come to that, as he was released 15 minutes later when the police realised their mistake.

Lampre-Caffita behind the Skoda wheel

Last year's supplier of official vehicles to the Tour de France will also be supplying vehicles to Italian ProTour team, Lampre-Caffita. Czech car manufacturer Skoda has given 10 vehicles for the squad to use during the 2005 season, with nine Octavia wagons and one top-of-the-line Superb hatchback.

Giuseppe Saronni, General Manager of the Lampre-Caffita team, said: "It is a sponsorship of great value, and we would like to thank Skoda for their dedication and also in believing in us as a ProTour team." Accompanying Saronni at the car company's Autogerma headquarters was the team's star rider, Damiano Cunego, who added: "The vehicle is fantastic, elegant with lots of space."

Three of the vehicles will also be equipped with four-wheel drive and an electronic clutch - which may come in handy when driving up the mountain passes in this year's Giro d'Italia.

Naturino-Sapore di Mare for Giro d'Oro

Leading Italian-registered Professional Continental Team Naturino-Sapore di Mare at the Giro d'Oro this Sunday is Francesco Casagrande, who forms part of an eight-rider line-up. The 23rd edition of the Giro d'Oro will begin in Condino and finish 184 kilometres later in Comano Terme.

Riders: Francesco Casagrande, Valerio Agnoli, Alexander Bazhenov, Sergio Barbero, Alessandro Bertuola, Antonio Murilo Ficher, Massimiliano Gentili, Massimo Iannetti. Reserves: Alessio Galletti and Filippo Simeoni.
Directtore sportivo: Fabio Becherini

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