First Edition News for April 20, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Amstel Gold Race: favourites comments
On the eve of the 38th Amstel Gold Race, the round four of the World
Cup, the various favourites for the race assessed their chances for the
250 km classic. With 31 climbs and the finish on the Cauberg, there will
certainly be no bunch sprint to decide it. Could it be one of the following
riders who finds themselves atop the victory dais tomorrow?
Don't miss Cyclingnews' live coverage of the event, starting from 10:20am
CEST (04:20 EDT, 01:20 PDT, 18:20 AEST) on Sunday.
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)
Photo: © Bert Geerts
The 1999 winner hopes that he can add a second Amstel to his palmares,
and believes that things are falling into place. "Everything feels good,"
said the Dutchman to Het Nieuwsblad. "You haven't heard me say that I'll
win, but it's good for me, yes."
Boogerd admits however that "I haven't been really good after my fall
in the Ronde and the virus that I had. I was really happy that on Tuesday
and Wednesday I could go well again."
Somewhat surprisingly, he says that he enjoyed the vibe at the Ronde
van Vlaanderen more than anything. "The special feeling that I had for
the Ronde I don't have now. No, not even for a World Cup race at home.
Maybe it's because I've already won the Gold Race once. Furthermore, in
Vlaanderen I raced over the terrain of Van Petegem and co. Now Peter comes
to us. Never underestimate that man! He can do this too, I reckon. One
of the super favourites."
Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo)
Peter Van Petegem
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Peter Van Petegem is coming off back to back wins in the Ronde van Vlaanderen
and Paris-Roubaix, two of the toughest one day races in the world to win.
The World Cup leader has thus been spending more time giving interviews
than cycling in the last few days. He was even invited to the official
residence of Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt last Monday, an honour
few riders have received.
"I found that really nice," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "That means
that you've done something special. But I'm keeping cool. I knew I was
good, and I realize that I'll probably never be as lucky again as I was
in the last two weeks....I won't say that I'm much stronger than I was
in previous years. But in 2002 I was third in the Ronde van Vlaanderen
and this year I won. How could that happen?"
Van Petegem gives himself a fighting chance in the Amstel too. "Everything
is possible, but Sunday and next week (Liege-Bastogne-Liege) you'll see
totally different start list. There are also the climbers present. Not
that I'm afraid of them, but I find the hills and cobbles of the Ronde
and Paris-Roubaix easier than in the Amstel. It has nothing to do with
motivation, everything will depend on how I feel."
After Paris-Roubaix, Van Petegem said that "The tiredness has gone away
since Wednesday. After a long training ride [not on the Amstel parcours]
I felt the legs were OK again."
The Amstel is a lot tougher this year, with 31 climbs, the Keutenberg
closer to the end and the finish on top of the Cauberg. "This doesn't
mean it's going to be a spectacular race," states Van Petegem. "It's not
because there are 31 hills in it that the race will be broken apart."
Finally, Van Petegem hopes that the Cauberg will bring him success as
it did in 1998 during the World's in Valkenburg, where he finished second
behind Oscar Camenzind. "I hope this hill will smile on me again on Sunday."
Lance Armstrong (US Postal presented by Berry Floor)
Photo: © AFP
Having twice finished second in this race, Lance Armstrong calls the
Amstel Gold Race "My favourite classic. Again and again I've come close
to winning, but never been able to do it. It's had a lot to do with the
nature of the finish. With the line this year at the top of the Cauberg,
it's a little bit better."
Armstrong has brought a good team to Maastricht for the Amstel, "Surrounded
by Heras, Rubiera, Peña, Ekimov, Vandevelde, Van Heeswijk, Joachim, I'm
not here to enjoy the sun and the beautiful landscape," he said. "We are
starting with a very strong team, only Hincapie and Landis are missing.
But, for more than half of them, including me, it'll be their first World
Cup race. In previous years, I already had Milan-Sanremo and the Ronde
in my legs, and that's a difference."
Armstrong is in full preparation for the Tour de France, but experienced
a slight setback when he had to pull out of the Circuit de la Sarthe last
week after only one and a half stages. "It's going according to plan,
but I'm not where I finally have to be," he said, rating his condition
at 75-80 percent. "I've almost forgotten my abandon in the Circuit de
la Sarthe from stomach troubles. I stopped to prevent it getting worse."
After Amstel and Liege, Armstrong will not race during the month of
May and some of June, preferring to train himself into Tour shape. "Of
course I'm not sharp yet. Literally. Before the Tour I've still got to
work off a couple of pounds," he said.
His final race before the Tour will be the Dauphiné Libéré, but he will
not be taking it easy in the meantime. "If you add it up at the end of
the year you'll see that there are less than 20 days off the bike. Even
in winter I get up at 6. You don't win the Tour in the winter, but you
can lose it then. The Tour is my life, the reason for my existence."
Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo: © Sirotti
As the defending champion and a winner of six World Cup races during
his career, Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo) should be counted among the
favourites for this race. However, a fractured pelvis at the beginning
of the year set back his plans, and it's surprising that he's been able
to race the spring classics at all.
Bartoli told Het Laatste Nieuws that he had found new motivation from
his friend Dario Pieri, who finished second in Roubaix. "In the week before
Paris-Roubaix, we trained together and I think this ride brought him some
luck. That's why we trained again together on Thursday, hoping this ride
will have the same effect on me."
"I am, in spite of a lack of competition, fairly good. I lacked racing
kilometres in Milan-Sanremo. That wasn't the case in the Ronde, I had
good legs, I just didn't know where I would end up. I doubted myself and
that's why I was so disappointed at the finish. On Sunday, I won't explore
my own possibilities, but I'll definitely go for a win."
Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo: © Jeff Tse
After finishing second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Frank Vandenbroucke
is ready for his two favourite spring classics: Amstel and Liege. "Having
bad luck in Paris-Roubaix and abandoning after 90 kilometres means that
I'm still very hungry," he said. "I want to satisfy this hunger in the
Vandenbroucke rode well in Wednesday's Scheldeprijs, attacking and splitting
the bunch on the Pulderbos cobbles. "The condition is very good," he said.
"I did even some training after the Scheldeprijs to get the distance of
the Amstel in my legs."
Although it's a race that should suit him on paper, Vandenbroucke's
best result in the Amstel is 21st, in 1996. "Now it'll be different: the
Amstel is earlier this year, I'm not yet exhausted now, but still very
focused. Also the different parcours is to my advantage. It can break
up anywhere in the Amstel, but it's sure that there won't be a mass storming
of the Cauberg. After the Keutenberg, at 12 kilometres from the finish,
there will be less than ten riders left with a chance. Who? Di Luca, Basso,
Van Petegem of course, a few Rabo's, maybe Armstrong and hopefully me
Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo: © Jeff Tse
After winning Omloop Het Volk at the beginning of March, Johan Museeuw's
season hasn't exactly gone to plan. Injured and sick before the Ronde,
he showed glimpses of his best in that race and Gent-Wevelgem, but didn't
have it in Paris-Roubaix. Now he hopes that his form is still improving
in time for the Amstel, his last classic of the spring season.
"The Amstel is a mini Liege-Bastogne-Liege," he told Het Nieuwsblad.
"That's what it was like earlier when I won it nine years ago, now even
more with the finish atop the Cauberg. But a finish like that on top of
a hill doesn't suit me so well. I really don't know how I'll end up. Also
because the Amstel Gold Race is positioned differently on the calendar.
Previously you knew that your condition was falling off. It was the finisher.
Maybe it will be different for me now because I was not yet at the top
in the Ronde."
Museeuw named Frank Vandenbroucke and Luca Paolini as the team's top
riders. "Depending on the circumstances I'll try to help them," he said.
Weather for tomorrow
The weather predictions for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race are for a moderately
fine day with temperatures reaching up to 20 degrees. There may be some
rain in the morning, but once the sun comes out it will dry things up
quickly. The wind will be mainly from the east, gusting up to 20 km/h.
Bookmaker's odds for the Amstel Gold Race
Lance Armstrong (USA - USP) 8/1
Igor Astarloa (SPA - SAE) 14/1
Michele Bartoli (ITA - FAS) 6.5/1
Michael Boogerd (NED - RAB) 5/1
Dave Bruylandts (BEL - MAR) 26/1
Francesco Casagrande (ITA - LAM) 20/1
Mirko Celestino (ITA - SAE) 14/1
Erik Dekker (NED - RAB) 34/1
Danilo Di Luca (ITA - SAE) 14/1
Oscar Freire (ESP - RAB) 7/1
Tyler Hamilton (USA - CSC) 22/1
Roger Hammond (GBR - PAL) 80/1
Serguei Ivanov (RUS - FAS) 18/1
Servais Knaven (NED - QSD) 34/1
Nico Mattan (BEL - COF) 26/1
Johan Museeuw (BEL - QSD) 12/1
Luca Paolini (ITA - QSD) 16/1
Jo Planckaert (BEL - COF) 34/1
Filippo Pozzato (ITA - FAS) 22/1
Davide Rebellin (ITA - GST) 14/1
Raimondas Rumsas (LTU - LAM) 50/1
Scott Sunderland (AUS - FAK) 66/1
Peter Van Petegem (BEL - LOT) 7/1
Frank Vandenbroucke (BEL - QSD) 10/1
Bart Voskamp (NED - BCT) 34/1
Erik Zabel (GER - TEL) 16/1
More Amstel Gold coverage
Preview and history
Final start list
Ullrich in Flèche Wallonne
Jan Ullrich (Team Coast) will ride in next Wednesday's Ardennes classic,
La Flèche Wallonne, according to his team director Rudy Pevenage. Ullrich
is currently participating in the Vuelta a Aragon, which finishes on Sunday.
His plan is to do the Rund um Köln on Monday, before taking the trip to
Belgium for La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday.
"It's going so well with Ullrich that we decided that he would start
in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday as preparation for Liege-Bastogne-Liege,"
said Pevenage, who indicated that Ullrich would probably stop in the Vuelta
a Aragon either on Saturday or Sunday. "On Monday Ullrich will ride for
the first time in 19 months in front of his own people. Because he wants
to avoid as much stress as possible, he might not ride the Vuelta a Aragon
Ullrich himself is still very satisfied with the way things are going
- he was 39th in the first stage of Aragon, which finished on top of a
Category 1 climb. "It was tough work and I was really happy when I reached
the red kite, that marks the last kilometre," wrote Ullrich on his website,
janullrich.de. "After that I knew that I could also keep up in the mountains.
There were more riders behind me than in front of me. Suddenly all the
pain was gone and I enjoyed the last 1000 metres in full flight."
Ullrich added that "It's going OK, but it has to get better if I want
to do a good Tour. I am satisfied with my achievement. However I don't
forget that there were nearly 40 riders still in front of me. I will work
so that number will become smaller."
He also praised Manuel Beltran's efforts in the race. The Spaniard currently
sits in third overall behind Leonardo Piepoli and Gilberto Simoni.
Dionne and Wohlberg will compete in GP de Beauce
Despite their trade team Saturn choosing not to start in the GP de Beauce
(June 17-22), Canadians Charles Dionne and Eric Wohlberg will race the
event as part of a Canadian national team
. "It is unfortunate that the Saturn Team will not be able to participate
in the 2003 edition of the event, however, it was especially important
to the Saturn Team to see our Canadian athletes compete at this event,"
team manager Giana Roberge told Cyclingnews. We understand the importance
to the race and its sponsors to have Canada well represented through their
athletes and our decision was not an easy one to make."
Following the event, both Dionne and Wohlberg will compete at the B
World Championships ten days later, again as part of the Canadian national
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)