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37th Amstel Gold Race - (CDM)

Netherlands, April 28, 2002

2001 Results    Preview     Start List    Past winners    Live report

Preview

By Jeff Jones

Windmills
Photo: © AFP
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The fifth and final race of the World Cup this spring is the Amstel Gold Race, being held this year on a Sunday instead of the usual Saturday. First held in 1966, the Amstel is certainly the baby of the spring classics, but has earned its place alongside the 'monuments'. It's by far the biggest race in the Netherlands, and we can expect thousands of orange-clad fans dotted along the 33 climbs thoroughly enjoying the occasion, especially if there is a cafe nearby.

The race starts and finishes in Maastricht in the southern part of the Netherlands, wedged between Belgium and Germany. The route is quite torturous, with the aforementioned climbs forming the key part of the race. Unlike the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, there is no 150 kilometre cooling off period before the climbs start. After 9 kilometres the riders hit the 1.1 km Slingerberg; only 5% but merely a taste of things to come. None of the climbs are longer than 2.1 kilometres, and none average more than 11%. The best known is probably the Cauberg, a 1 km cobbled climb at 8% which is tackled three times, the last with under 20 km to go.

Stringing 33 climbs over the course of a 254 kilometre race is considered by most to be a sufficient challenge. Add in the numerous corners and the wind, and it's surprising that the Amstel does occasionally finish in a bunch sprint. Erik Zabel won it in 2000 in such a manner, but more often than not a small group gets away to contest the finish.

Who will it be this year?

Erik Dekker, 2001 champion
Photo: © AFP
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Despite the absence of last year's winner Erik Dekker, the Rabobank team will start this race in the favourites' role. Michael Boogerd has finished first and second previously, and should be well supported by a motivated team that includes Markus Zberg, also a potential winner. On paper, they are not as strong as some of the other teams, but they are racing at home and there is a good incentive to win.

Mapei-Quick Step have already won two World Cups this season - can they make it three? With World Cup challenger Paolo Bettini at the helm, anything is possible. Add in Oscar Freire and a support crew that includes Tafi, Nardello and Zanini, and Mapei is in with a huge chance.

Lotto will be looking at Peter Van Petegem to try and increase his position on the World Cup table. He's currently in fifth position, and does well in this type of race. Last year's third placed Serge Baguet is also in with a chance, as is Mario Aerts.

The Fassa Bortolo boys haven't managed to snag a World Cup win yet this season - perhaps Bartoli and Basso (3rd last week) can combine to put them on the top of the podium. Don't count out Domo's Johan Museeuw and Fred Rodriguez, both of whom have been successful this season. Museeuw has the World Cup jersey, and wants to keep it. He won this race in 1994 and is more suited to it than the tougher Ardennes races.

Don't rule out Erik Zabel either - the Telekom powerhouse is not at his best so far this season, but has still picked up several wins. He's capable of making it to the finish and should he do so, there are few who can beat him.

One rider who would dearly like to add Amstel to his palmares is twice runner up Lance Armstrong, who will lead the US Postal team along with their classics man George Hincapie. Armstrong was not there for the final of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and he expressed serious doubts about his form last week. This week may be a different story.

Don't miss Cyclingnews' Live coverage of the 37th Amstel Gold Race - starts at 10:00am local time (4:00am Eastern, 1:00am Pacific, 6:00pm Australian east).

Past winners

YearFirstSecondThirdKMSAVS
2001 Erik Dekker (Ned) Lance Armstrong (USA) Serge Baguet (Bel) 255 38.62
2000Erik Zabel (Ger) Michael Boogerd (Ned)Marcus Zberg (Swi)25841.11
1999Michael Boogerd (Ned)Lance Armstrong (USA)Gabriele Missaglia (Ita)25338.547
1998Rolf Järmann (Swi)Martin den Bakker (Ned)Michele Bartoli (Ita)25838.280
1997Bjarne Riis (Den)Andrea Tafi (Ita)Beat Zberg (Swi)25341.689
1996Stefano Zanini (Ita)Mauro Bettini (Ita)Johan Museeuw (Bel)25042.600
1995Mauro Gianetti (Swi)David Cassani (Ita)Beat Zberg (Swi)25039.261
1994Johan Museeuw (Bel)Bruno Cenghialta (Ita)Marco Saligari (Ita)24937.260
1993Rolf Järmann (Swi)Gianni Bugno (Ita)Jens Heppner (Ger)24937.343
1992Olaf Ludwig (Ger)Johan Museeuw (Bel)Dimitri Konyshev (Rus)24838.219
1991Frans Maassen (Ned)Maurizio Fondriest (Ita)Dirk De Wolf (Bel)24440.135
1990Adri van der poel (Ned)Luc Roosen (Bel)Jelle Nijdam (Ned)249 41.507
1989Erik Van Lancker (Bel)Claude Criquielion (Bel)Steve Bauer (Can)24240.187
1988Jelle Nijdam (Ned)Steven Rooks (Ned)Claude Criquielion (Bel)24237.386
1987Joop Zoetemelk (Ned)Steven Rooks (Ned)Malcolm Elliott (GB)24238.943
1986Steven Rooks (Ned)Joop Zoetemelk (Ned)Ronny Van Holen (Bel)24239.665
1985Gerrie Knetemann (Ned)Jos Lieckens (Bel)Johnny Broers (Ned)24237.446
1984Jacques Hanegraaf (Ned)Kim Andersen (Den)Patrick Versluys (Bel)24240.584
1983Phil Anderson (Aus)Jan Bogaert (Bel)Jan Raas (Ned)24741.434
1982Jan Raas (Ned)Stephen Roche (Ire)Gregor Braun (Ger)24238.354
1981Bernard Hinault (Fra)Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)Alfons De Wolf (Bel)23739.741
1980Jan Raas (Ned)Alfons De Wolf (Bel)Sean Kelly (Ire)23741.417
1979Jan Raas (Ned)Henk Lubberding (Ned)Sven-Ake Nilsson (Swe)23839.507
1978Jan Raas (Ned)Francesco Moser (Ita)Joop Zoetemelk (Ned)23737.803
1977Jan Raas (Ned)Gerrie Knetemann (Ned)Hennie Kuiper (Ned)23039.894
1976Freddie Maertens (Bel)Jan Raas (Bel)Lucien Leman (Bel)23039.078
1975Eddie Merckx (Bel)Freddy Maertens (Bel)JospehBruyère (Bel)23037.231
1974Gerrie Knetemann (Ned)Walter Planckaert (Bel)Walter Godefroot (Bel)23838.963
1973Eddie Merckx (Bel)Frans Verbeeck (Bel)Herman Vanspringel (Bel)23835.650
1972Walter Planckaert (Bel)Willy De Geest (Bel)Joop Zoetemelk (Ned)23737.653
1971Frans Verbeeck (Bel)Gerben Karstens (Ned)Roger Rosiers (Bel)23337.622
1970Georges Pintens (Bel)Willy Vanneste (Bel)Andre Dierickx (Bel)24037.745
1969Gudio Reybrouck (Bel)Jos Huysmans (Bel)Eddy Merckx (Bel)25940.782
1968Harry Steevens (Ned)Roger Rosiers (Bel)Daniel van Rijckegem (Bel)24541.704
1967Arie den Hartog (Ned)Cees Lute (Ned)Harry Steevens (Ned)21343.711
1966Jean Stablinski (Fra)Bernard van den Kerckhove (Bel)Jan Hugens (Ned)30238.649

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