37th Amstel Gold Race - (CDM)
Netherlands, April 28, 2002
results & report
Complete Live Report
Start time: 10.15 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16.15 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews.com's coverage of the Amstel Gold Race, the Netherlands' biggest race of the year.
Following last year's outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, which led to the Belgian borders being closed to the race and a hasty last-minute course redesign to replace the traditional loop through Belgian Limburg, the organisers have again opted to keep the race entirely on Dutch soil; this makes it difficult to follow on the map unless you have post-graduate training in topology, but as long as the men's and women's events don't actually meet each other going in opposite directions, it's a more satisfying solution, and the 33 climbs on the course belie the suggestion that they need to leave the country to make the course hard enough.
After a Spring campaign marked mainly by sunshine and mild temperatures, the Dutch have gone to some pains to put on proper classics weather for the event: temperatures around 10°C, rain that looks as though it's set in for the day, and a stiff westerly wind.
10:55 CEST 18 km/236 km to go
After half an hour's racing on the first loop north of Maastricht the first attempts to break away are happening. Unlike the preceding World Cup events there is no gentle start before the hard part of the course - the climbs are more or less evenly spread through the course - so the riders from lesser teams wanting to claim a bit of TV time in hopeless breaks have a harder job than in the Ronde or Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
11:08 CEST 30 km/224 km to go
The first serious break of the race is a group of six -
Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
Thorsten Rund (Ger) Team Coast
Stefan Kupfernagel (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems
Bram Schmitz (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus
Stefan Van Dijck (Bel) Lotto - Adecco
Bjørnar Vestøl (Nor) EDS - Fakta
who extended their lead to 40 seconds, but now appear to be being caught again by the front part of a bunch in which the first splits are starting to appear.
Before the start we had a word with Telekom's super-domestique Udo Bölts. "It's not so nice. It's a very twisty course, a lot of up and down. I hope the weather gets better. It would have made it easier. Even in the dry it's a very hard race."
Any chance of a big bunch gallop today?
"Definitely not. They have changed the last 40 km a little bit with 5 more hills, definitely no bunch sprint, not even 20 guys."
Who are you working for today? "Zabel and Wesemann." What about your own chances? "No, no, I have things to do for the two leaders."
11:27 CEST 42 km/212 km to go
The split in the bunch has come to an end and they have eased up, allowing the six breakaways to extend their lead to 1.45. The race has already covered four of the 33 climbs and are now running back south towards Valkenberg and the first of three climbs of the Cauberg.
One of the breakaways is EDS-Fakta's Bjørnar Vestøl, who was one of the riders
our roving reporter Jeff Jones caught up with this morning. "Yeah, it's going
to be a very tough experience for the team. My aim is just to be in front and
to try and stay in the group. You never know what can happen really in this
weather. It will split the race up and also affect the morale of the racers.
Normally its not my strong side but I feel motivated today and I hope I can
go all right. The best guys in the team will be Marcus [Ljungqvist] and Kurt
[Arvesen], and maybe Lennie Kristensen who is going well at the moment. It's
the first 250 km race for us this season; to finish in a good place would be
a bonus. "
11:45 CEST 55 km/199 km to go
The six leaders tackle the first climb of the Cauberg (climb 6) with a lead of 2.25.
For the second-line Dutch team Bankgiroloterij-Batavus this is one of the season's highest profile outings, so it is no surprise that they are represented in the break in the person of Bram Schmitz. We spoke to his teammate Corey Sweet this morning: "We've got Bart Voskamp to try and get up there for the finale. And then half the team is trying to get in the early moves and cover everything. So we're not on the defensive right away". Corey's own role is to "go with some early moves and then if I've still got good legs then I'll try to help Bart out after 180 km. I want to finish as well because it's a World Cup race. With the wind and the weather and the way the course is, you've always got to have a good position. It's going to be a fight from the start, pretty dangerous I think."
12:26 CEST 85 km/169 km to go
With the weather as foul as ever and the first couple of hours racing littered with minor bumps and crashes (no serious casualties reported), a fair number of riders have taken advantage of the first feed to call it a day. The six front runners have continued to pull away slowly, now over five minutes ahead, with two lone riders trying to get across to them (or, who knows, just trying to avoid riding in the bunch in the rain): Collstrop-Palmans' Peter Wuyts is 2.40 down, while Bjarke Nielsen (CSC-Tiscali) is a few hundred metres in front of the bunch.
12:59 CEST 95 km/159 km to go
The break's lead is now up to 5.45; Nielsen has got clear of the bunch but Wuyts seems to be stuck half way across.
One rider this morning didn't seem to be too put out by the weather: the ever-present
Max Sciandri (Lampre-Daikin). "I'm feeling pretty good. I don't mind a bit of
sun, but what can you do. We've had a pretty good spring classics, apart from
Roubaix; they say it's going to clear up but I don't believe them. As far as
the team goes, it's just going to be me and a couple of other guys. We're just
going to take our best chance and see how the race goes. It's going to be hard
to control with the wind, up and down, left and right, rain. You'll need a lot
of luck as usual."
13:21 CEST 111 km/143 km to go
On the climb up to the Drielandenpunt, where the borders of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands all meet (which is also the highest point in the Netherlands, a fact which the Germans and Belgians find mildly amusing), Rund and Vestøl are dropped from the break. The lead from the main field is now well up over 7 minutes, with Wuyts and Nielsen still in no-man's land.
13:44 CEST 122 km/132 km to go
The front six are still together, but Rund and Vestøl are definitely suffering on the climbs (and there are 22 of them left ...), and their lead from the bunch is now starting to edge downwards again to 6.30. Neither Nielsen nor Wuyts seems to be making any more headway, and it looks as though they will be probably caught without making it to the front of the race.
14:16 CEST 142 km/112 km to go
De Groot, Kupfernagel, Schmitz and Van Dijck have now dropped Rund and Vestøl, who have been joined by Wuyts a couple of minutes behind. The quartet have moved a bit further clear of the bunch, now 7.30 down.
The rain has now stopped but it is still cold and windy.
14:48 CEST 157 km/97 km to go
On the second climb of the Cauberg the leading quartet are still 7 minutes up on the not very active bunch, with Wuyts alone again 3 minutes off the lead. Sprinter Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has just attacked off the front of the bunch, possibly to coincide with the start of live TV coverage.
15:02 CEST 174 km/80 km to go
Petacchi is joined by Lennie Kristensen (EDS-Fakta) but has trouble keeping
up with him on the Geulhemmerweg climb.
So far the favourites - Boogerd, Museeuw, Armstrong, Van Petegem, Bettini
and Bartoli among them - have mostly been keeping a low profile; on this
hard course it is probably someone who has kept themselves out of trouble
who will do best in the last 50 km. Before the start Boogerd was all smiles,
while Armstrong - the "eternal second" in this race and apparently slightly
unwell yesterday - hid until the last minute and actually got left behind
by the starting riders in the press scrum. Cyclingnews' Jeff Jones was
in the scrum, and you can see his pictures from the start here.
Photo: © Jeff Jones/CN
15:17 CEST 180 km/74 km to go
With the four leaders on the Bemelerberg, 4 minutes behind them Petacchi and Kristensen join Wuyts, but the unlucky Belgian crashes out on a wet corner and seems unlikely to continue. Behind there is little organisation in the bunch as yet.
Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre - Daikin) and Jan Van Velzen (Bankgiroloterij-Batavus) are also counterattacking behind Petacchi and Kristensen.
The chasers are closing in on the four leaders, with Petacchi and Kristensen just a couple of minutes behind them now. The bunch look frankly unenthusiastic about life, but the gap has nonetheless come down to 4.40. Or 6.02 - reports vary somewhat.
At the feed the two chasing pairs have come together, 2.05 behind the leading quartet, with the bunch at 5.05, now looking a little more animated with a lot of Mapei vests prominent at the front. The sun is just breaking through but the roads are still damp.
15:49 CEST 199 km/55 km to go
Petacchi is dropped by the other three chasers and caught by the bunch, as the US Postal team move en masse to the front; the tempo has picked up quite noticeably - the bunch 3.45 down, with the three chasers at 2 minutes.
In front Stafan Kupfernagel (the brother of Hanka, the women's cyclo-cross champion) is looking to be suffering. With most other races no more than 200 km long, this is where it starts to get hard for the riders who aren't used to World Cup events. Freire, Boogerd and Van Petegem are all sitting near the front if the bunch, behind the US Postal train.
16:03 CEST 207 km/47 km to go
On the Gulperbergweg climb Kupfernagel looks to be definitively shot, and Stefan Van Dijck too is in trouble. The chasing trio are at 1.25, the bunch now only 2.15. Bettini and Bartoli are visible near the front of the bunch.
One of the Telekom team leaders punctures and gets a wheel change from a teammate; Gabriele Balducci (Tacconi) has a go off the front of the bunch but the US Postal train mop him up a few hundred meters further on.
16:16 CEST 215 km/39 km to go
On the Eyserbosweg climb the gap from the two surviving leaders is down to 1.15
as first Van Dijck and then Kupfernagel are mopped up. Serge Baguet, Axel Merckx,
Johan Museeuw and Fred Rodriguez are all looking to be having a hard time at
the tail of the bunch.
Boogerd attacks at the top of the climb, with Bartoli on his wheel. Sergei Ivanov and Armstrong go with them - the foursome have a hundred metres lead on the descent.
16:23 CEST 219 km/35 km to go
On the Fromberg the four counterattackers catch the two leaders, who try to stay with them - Boogerd temporarily has a teammate there in the shape of Bram de Groot, but I can't see it lasting.
A second counterattacking group forms including two Cofidis riders and Di Luca.
16:26 CEST 224 km/30 km to go
Van Petegem and Bettini are also with Di Luca, but they are not working as well
as the five remaining leaders - De Groot takes a long turn at the front on the
lead in to the Keutenberg, the steepest climb in the race, and then sits up.
Schmitz does not last very long with the pace being set up the climb by Boogerd, but behind the disorganised chasers are caught by what remains of the bunch, although there are plenty of big names shot off behind - Museeuw prominent among them.
16:35 CEST 229 km/25 km to go
The foursome are now 45 seconds clear as the bunch sweeps up the dropped Schmitz, which on the tight winding lanes and village streets of this course puts them well out of sight. The two Fassa Bortolo rider have a clear advantage, with Ivanov being the fastest sprinter of the four on paper. There are there climbs left, with the Cauberg coming up shortly.
Behind it is Lotto and Telekom leading the chase in a bunch of no more than thirty riders.
16:41 CEST 234 km/20 km to go
In Valkenburg at the foot of the Cauberg the quartet have a lead of 1.15, with
Heppner, Bölts, Aerts and Van Dijck leading the chase. Boogerd sets the tempo
up this climb, but the four are still working well together.
16:46 CEST 236 km/18 km to go
No attacks on the Cauberg this year in front, although Juan Antonio Flecha has a brief sally off the front of the bunch. The four take advantage of the long straight open section that follows it to talk to their team cars; behind the bunch have the air of beaten men - probably thinking more about World Cup points than anything else now.
16:50 CEST 237 km/17 km to go
On the penultimate climb, the Geulhemmerweg, the foursome - Bartoli, Ivanov, Armstrong and Boogerd - are still together, still going away - it seems certain that one of them will be the winner now. Telekom are still leading a chase of sorts, but other riders are catching the bunch up from behind.
The first move comes from Ivanov; Armstrong leads the other three back up to him as they come back to descend the Bemelerberg which they climbed earlier.
16:54 CEST 12 km/242 km to go
The old 1-2 - Bartoli has a go (timing his move for a corner with a speed bump on it) in the village of Terblijt, but again Armstrong leads them back up to him.
17:01 CEST 246 km/8 km to go
The final climb is the two-part Sint-Antoniusbank - from here on in it is big main roads all the way to the line.
Armstrong attacks on the upper section, and Ivanov is fastest on his wheel. Boogerd and Bartoli have a bit more trouble, but the foursome are all back together again over the top in Kadier en Keer.
Ivanov attacks on the flat, and as they start the descent only Armstrong gets
back to him, while Bartoli contents himself with marking Boogerd. But they come
back together on the descent, just in time for Ivanov to have another go.
17:05 CEST 250 km/4 km to go
The two Fassa Bortolos alternate attacks without success. Boogerd looks the weakest. They settle down - looks like a four-up sprint coming up.
17:09 CEST 252 km/2 km to go
On the bridge over the Maas Ivanov goes yet again, and yet again it is Armstrong doing the chasing, but finding it harder each time. Bartoli in an armchair, as they say.
17:11 CEST 253 km/1 km to go
Round the final corner Ivanov slows it down to a near-trackstand.
Ivanov leads out on the right hand side of the road, Bartoli has moved up as the pace slowed, boxing Armstrong in, forcing him to try and come all the way round Boogerd, who is on Bartoli's wheel. Boogerd can't get past - Michele Bartoli wins ahead of his teammate, Boogerd and Armstrong.
Oscar Freire leads in the bunch for fifth place ahead of Van Petegem.
1 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 6.49.17 (37.37 km/h)
2 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
3 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 0.52
6 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
7 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis
8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step
9 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
10 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis
World Cup standings
1 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 170 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 134
3 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 121
4 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 120
5 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 109