Latest News for April 21, 2003
Edited by Jeff Jones
Amstel victory a "final farewell" for Andrei Kivilev
By Jeff Jones
Alexandre Vinokourov's victory in yesterday's 38th Amstel Gold Race was more than a gutsy win by a hard fighter, although it did take all of his strength to climb the Cauberg in the final kilometre to hold off an elite group of chasers, which included Michael Boogerd, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin and Lance Armstrong. For Vinokourov, his triumph was also symbolic, coming on Easter Sunday, the day when many people around the world remember the resurrection of Christ.
"In Russia and also in Kazakhstan it's a tradition that 40 days after someone dies, we remember them again as they take their final farewell. Easter Sunday was exactly 40 days after the death of Andrei Kivilev. I thought of him on the victory podium and there was a little pride that I could honour him once more for the last time with this victory."
Once again, Vinokourov showed exceptional physical and mental strength when he bridged up to the leading group after the Keutenberg with 12 km to go, before attacking on his own through Sibbe with 5 km to go, while Armstrong and Boogerd marked each other.
"I attacked because I did not have good enough legs for the sprint, therefore I went with five kilometres to go," said Vinokourov. At the 'flame rouge' (final kilometre) I gave it everything in order stay away. I could see the signs for 900m, 800m to go and I thought the finish would never come. But when I saw the cars behind me I knew that the gap was at least 15 seconds, I had to give everything for the win, because I didn't want to lose in the last 50m. I heard the shrill voice of the announcers, who were saying my name over and over, and I just didn't have the strength left to correctly celebrate before the finish."
Vinokourov described the parcours as "Insanely hard. It went up and down, left and right. You had to really concentrate in order not to lose it. The Amstel Gold is like that. I trained over the final 80 kilometres of the parcours on Friday in order to get used to all the corners and small roads."
On race day, the team's tactic was to protect Vinokourov, Matthias Kessler and Erik Zabel, although the latter did not make the final break, leaving just Vinokourov and Kessler in front. "Today the team worked well for me and Matthias. I am very grateful to them. I actually felt good from the beginning. I went to Matthias Kessler with 5 km to go and said that I don't have fast legs today for a sprint. 'Well, I'll handle the sprint,' he answered. He did a turn and then I attacked - and no-one came from behind. Then I just kept going. I looked for my chance in the finale, and the Cauberg wasn't able to slow me down any more."
"For me it was important because I've never won a one day race. The fact that I can win a World Cup race after Paris-Nice surprises me, but it makes me very, very satisfied. To win a World Cup race is magnifique."
With the points gained from this race, Vinokourov moves into third overall on the World Cup standings. But the Kazakh said that he's not thinking of the overall. "I'm thinking more about Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which is my favourite race. The date change of the Amstel was good for me because after the Tour of the Basque Country I had a week to recover and prepare better."
Vinokourov confirmed that he will ride La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. "I would like to do a good result at La Flèche Wallonne," he said. "We have also other riders there like Kessler and Mario Aerts [2002 winner]. My main aim remains Liege-Bastogne-Liege."
After Liege, Vinokourov will set his sights on the Tour de France, where he will be one of the leaders in the Telekom team. "The Tour is still a way off, but we will prepare for that intensively. Going head to head with Lance Armstrong doesn't seem possible. We will collectively attack Armstrong with Botero, Savoldelli, Kessler and me. Therein lies our chance, perhaps to make someone like Lance tremble."
Winner's profile: Alexandre Vinokourov
Name: Alexandre Vinokourov
More riders' comments
Michael Boogerd (Rabobank, 2nd)
The pre-race favourite confirmed his status on the Cauberg by winning the sprint for second, but he was not in contention for the win by that stage.
"I was the strongest but I didn't win," said a disappointed Boogerd. "I really hate this feeling. I gambled on waiting, but my sprint was too late. They were all sitting on my wheel - which is allowed. 300m from the finish I attacked on the steepest part of the Cauberg in my big chainring, but unfortunately too late."
Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner, 4th)
"I'm very satisfied with the way I rode at Amstel Gold," said the Gerolsteiner rider who was just behind Danilo Di Luca in fourth place. "For me this was a very important test after the terrible influenza that slowed me down, and even at the Tour of the Basque Country, I wasn't going well. Plus this race was helpful for me to see how I was over a long distance since I haven't raced so far since San Remo. In fact, in the final I had some cramps when I made sharp accelerations and that forced me to race on the defensive. However, I'm still positive about my performance and I feel I can be confident going into Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, two races that are very important to my season."
Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo, 80th and World Cup leader)
Peter Van Petegem's Lotto-Domo team was prominent at the front, often leading the chase in pursuit of the early eight man break. But when the race broke up with 20 km to go, Van Petegem wasn't there, and eventually finished 80th, 3'41 down on the winner.
"I think that having the leader of the World Cup in the team, the guys found it nice to ride in front," said Van Petegem. "It wasn't too hard for me at the beginning. But when it came down to it I didn't have the legs, they hadn't recuperated."
"It was a fast race that only exploded very late. I think in any case it's a hard race. The parcours is harder, but it's the riders who make the race. "
Marc Wauters (Rabobank, 68th)
"I did a lot of work for Michael [Boogerd], but it would have been easier if the leader made it worthwhile all at the end. That's racing. If Oscar [Freire] was still there, it could have gone differently," said a slightly miffed Marc Wauters to Belgian Radio 1.
Walter Godefroot (Telekom manager)
Telekom recorded its first World Cup win since Erik Zabel in HEW Cyclassics in 2001, and manager Walter Godefroot was extremely happy. "We had a very strong team today. Some teams cry that out loudly, we don't, but we win. Mario Aerts is doing well in the team. He doesn't have to ride in front in the Flèche Wallonne, the season is still long enough. Nardello abandoned, reacting allergically to some flowers."
Carrigan satisfied, but wants more
Australian time trial champion Sara Carrigan's consistency in the World Cups this year has seen her keep the jersey after four rounds. With her seventh place in the Amstel on Sunday, she gained a few more valuable points, although Germany's Regina Schleicher moved a little closer to the Powerplate-Bik rider after placing fourth. Carrigan now has 139 points, with Schleicher on 112 and Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites Hartol) on 109, and the competition will be resumed again in Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne.
Carrigan described the race, which only really came to life in the last 15 km, as follows: "It was really weird because I thought it would break up a lot earlier, but it stayed together until last two hills," she said. "The second last climb [Keutenberg] was especially steep and I gave it absolutely everything."
"It was just unfortunate I couldn't get a bit further ahead at the finish but it was enough to hang onto the jersey. I was on her [Mirjam Melchers'] wheel at the finish and tried to get round her but I had nothing left."
Looking towards Wednesday, Carrigan is hopeful of another good result. "Flèche Wallonne is a good course for me because the climbs are a bit longer and it should split up more," explained Carrigan. "I raced it last year but I'll ride over it again in the next couple of days to make sure I know it well for the race."
Simoni ready for Giro
Gilberto Simoni, who finished second in the Vuelta a Aragon behind Leonardo Piepoli, will be the leader of the Saeco team at the Giro del Trentino which takes place from Thursday April 24 to Sunday April 27. The 2001 winner of the Giro d'Italia will use this race, which is run in the Trentino area in the Dolomite mountains, as final preparation for the Giro. The Giro d'Italia is Simoni's big objective of the year, and he has already shown to be in form and will be looking for his first win of the year at the Giro del Trentino.
Supporting Simoni in Trentino will be Leonardo Bertagnolli, Damiano Cunego, Giosuè Bonomi, Alessandro Spezialetti, Alessio Galletti and Igor Pugaci.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2003)