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38th Amstel Gold Race - CDM
Netherlands, April 20, 2003
By Jeff Jones
With a new finish atop the steep climb of the Cauberg in Valkenburg, the Amstel Gold Race will definitely be no sprinters affair this year. That's not to say it is normally, with a total of 31 hills scattered along the 250 km parcours, a sprinter has to be very strong to survive these as well as the narrow roads and the wind. Erik Zabel managed in 2000, but often the race is decided by a small breakaway. Last year, Michele Bartoli and Serguei Ivanov (both Fassa Bortolo) succeeded in running rings around Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Lance Armstrong (US Postal), who didn't have the firepower to break apart the two Fassa teammates.
All four riders will be back this year, and at least two of them can be counted among the favourites for the 2003 Amstel. Serguei Ivanov had a great but slightly unlucky ride in last Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, while 1999 Amstel winner Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) has already shown he can sprint up hills with his win in Brabantse Pijl. Michele Bartoli has not been at his best so far this year, but he's a classy rider who you can never write off. Also Lance Armstrong, who had his preparation interrupted by a stomach bug in the Circuit de la Sarthe, would dearly like to add this spring classic to his palmares, having finished twice on two occasions already.
The man in form at the moment is obviously Peter van Petegem (Lotto-Domo), who has won the last two World Cup races and is hungry for more. "It's a race that certainly lies within my capacities," said Van Petegem this week. "Maybe now more than previously, because the Amstel has a totally different parcours this year. The Keutenberg is deeper in the finale and the finish is no longer the flat finish in Maastricht, but it's at the top of the Cauberg...a hill that I know well. It helped me to a silver medal in the World's in Valkenburg in '98."
Of course a lot of things can happen in a 250 kilometre classic, but Van Petegem has shown that he can read a race to perfection as well as having the legs to win in a flat or an uphill sprint. The real question is whether his form will hold over three World Cup races, but there's no reason to think that it shouldn't at the moment.
After two disappointing results in the last two World Cups, Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon) is hoping that his troubles are behind him this season. When he injured his knee in Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Museeuw hinted that he might instead focus on the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Now that the Lion of Flanders has regained fitness, he has a chance to repeat his 1994 Amstel win. On the other hand, the hill climb finish might be suited to his teammate Frank Vandenbroucke, who has yet to record a win this season despite coming close.
Although Rabobank's chances will probably lie with Michael Boogerd, the Dutch Division I team can also make use of Oscar Freire, who missed Paris-Roubaix last weekend. Freire is a versatile sprinter with a very fast finish, and if he's there at the end will still be a big threat to the climbers on the Cauberg.
Saeco is entering a strong team for Amstel, including Igor Astarloa, Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino. After two second places in two World Cups, the Italian team would dearly love to climb to the top level of the podium.
Another rider who is always useful in the Amstel Gold is Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), who is ideally suited for an uphill finish. Rebellin has yet to place in this race, but is certainly a rider to watch on Sunday.
In Lance Armstrong's US Postal-Berry Floor squad, there are the experienced campaigners Max van Heeswijk and Viatchselav Ekimov, the latter giving the team another top three finish at Paris-Roubaix last weekend. After a good start to the season, Van Heeswijk has struggled with sickness and injury, but hopes that things will fall his way on Sunday.
Danish team fakta has several riders capable of performing in this, their only early season World Cup race. Norwegian champion Kurt Asle-Arvesen and Frank Hoj are in form at the moment, but don't count out Scott Sunderland, who is improving with every race and could well play a role for his team in Amstel.
Other riders to watch include Gianluca Bortolami (Sidermec), Andreas Klier and Daniele Nardello (Telekom), Dave Bruylandts (Marlux), and Bart Voskamp (BankGiroLoterij).
Cyclingnews will be covering the 38th Amstel Gold Race from start to finish. Coverage begins at 10:20 CEST/04:20 EDT, 01:20 PDT, 18:20 AEST).
World Cup status for women's Amstel
The women's version of the Amstel Gold Race will be held for the third time on Sunday, over part (114 km) of the parcours that the men use. For the first time, it will form part of the women's World Cup, which is currently being led by Sara Carrigan (Bik-Powerplate). Her nearest rival is Dutchwoman Mirjam Melchers (Farm Frites Hartol), who hopes to win on home territory of course, especially after taking Round 3 in Castilla y Leon in Spain last month.
Other riders to watch in the women's race on Sunday include the very strong Zoulfia Zabirova (Prato Marathon Bike), who should find the course to her liking, suiting her solo breakaway skills. Also Susanne Ljungskog (Aliverti Kookai) will be looking to show off her World Champion's jersey, and hopes for better luck than in the previous races.
The Australian national team contains a couple of good climbers in Olivia Gollan (national champion) and Oenone Wood (winner of the GP Cavrie in Italy last weekend). Also look for Kim Bruckner and Amber Neben, from the US T-Mobile team, both strong climbers.
Judith Arndt and Margaret Hemsley will probably lead the charge for Nurnberger, while young riders Nicole Cooke and Rochelle Gilmore will carry the hopes of the Ausra Gruodis team. Their 'sister team' Acca Due O, contains Dutch sisters Chantal and Ghita Beltman, as well as Lithuanian Diana Ziliute, and the combined force is always quite formidable.
The women's race will start in Maastricht approximately 30 minutes after the men's, and will be run over 114 kilometres. The race takes in nine climbs (Maasberg, Adsteeg, Lange Raarberg, Bergseweg, Sibbergrubbe, Cauberg, Bemelerberg, Keutenberg) and the finish is also on the Cauberg.
Year First Second Third 2002 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Michael Boogerd (Ned) 2001 Erik Dekker (Ned) Lance Armstrong (USA) Serge Baguet (Bel) 2000 Erik Zabel (Ger) Michael Boogerd (Ned) Marcus Zberg (Swi) 1999 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Lance Armstrong (USA) Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) 1998 Rolf Järmann (Swi) Martin den Bakker (Ned) Michele Bartoli (Ita) 1997 Bjarne Riis (Den) Andrea Tafi (Ita) Beat Zberg (Swi) 1996 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Mauro Bettini (Ita) Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1995 Mauro Gianetti (Swi) David Cassani (Ita) Beat Zberg (Swi) 1994 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Bruno Cenghialta (Ita) Marco Saligari (Ita) 1993 Rolf Järmann (Swi) Gianni Bugno (Ita) Jens Heppner (Ger) 1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger) Johan Museeuw (Bel) Dimitri Konyshev (Rus) 1991 Frans Maassen (Ned) Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) Dirk De Wolf (Bel) 1990 Adri van der poel (Ned) Luc Roosen (Bel) Jelle Nijdam (Ned) 1989 Erik Van Lancker (Bel) Claude Criquielion (Bel) Steve Bauer (Can) 1988 Jelle Nijdam (Ned) Steven Rooks (Ned) Claude Criquielion (Bel) 1987 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) Steven Rooks (Ned) Malcolm Elliott (GB) 1986 Steven Rooks (Ned) Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) Ronny Van Holen (Bel) 1985 Gerrie Knetemann (Ned) Jos Lieckens (Bel) Johnny Broers (Ned) 1984 Jacques Hanegraaf (Ned) Kim Andersen (Den) Patrick Versluys (Bel) 1983 Phil Anderson (Aus) Jan Bogaert (Bel) Jan Raas (Ned) 1982 Jan Raas (Ned) Stephen Roche (Ire) Gregor Braun (Ger) 1981 Bernard Hinault (Fra) Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Alfons De Wolf (Bel) 1980 Jan Raas (Ned) Alfons De Wolf (Bel) Sean Kelly (Ire) 1979 Jan Raas (Ned) Henk Lubberding (Ned) Sven-Ake Nilsson (Swe) 1978 Jan Raas (Ned) Francesco Moser (Ita) Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 1977 Jan Raas (Ned) Gerrie Knetemann (Ned) Hennie Kuiper (Ned) 1976 Freddie Maertens (Bel) Jan Raas (Bel) Lucien Leman (Bel) 1975 Eddie Merckx (Bel) Freddy Maertens (Bel) JospehBruyère (Bel) 1974 Gerrie Knetemann (Ned) Walter Planckaert (Bel) Walter Godefroot (Bel) 1973 Eddie Merckx (Bel) Frans Verbeeck (Bel) Herman Vanspringel (Bel) 1972 Walter Planckaert (Bel) Willy De Geest (Bel) Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 1971 Frans Verbeeck (Bel) Gerben Karstens (Ned) Roger Rosiers (Bel) 1970 Georges Pintens (Bel) Willy Vanneste (Bel) Andre Dierickx (Bel) 1969 Gudio Reybrouck (Bel) Jos Huysmans (Bel) Eddy Merckx (Bel) 1968 Harry Steevens (Ned) Roger Rosiers (Bel) Daniel van Rijckegem (Bel) 1967 Arie den Hartog (Ned) Cees Lute (Ned) Harry Steevens (Ned) 1966 Jean Stablinski (Fra) Bernard van den Kerckhove (Bel) Jan Hugens (Ned) Distance and time Year km km/h 2001 Erik Dekker (Ned) 255 38.620 2000 Erik Zabel (Ger) 258 41.110 1999 Michael Boogerd (Ned) 253 38.547 1998 Rolf Järmann (Swi) 258 38.280 1997 Bjarne Riis (Den) 253 41.689 1996 Stefano Zanini (Ita) 250 42.600 1995 Mauro Gianetti (Swi) 250 39.261 1994 Johan Museeuw (Bel) 249 37.260 1993 Rolf Järmann (Swi) 249 37.343 1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger) 248 38.219 1991 Frans Maassen (Ned) 244 40.135 1990 Adri van der poel (Ned) 249 41.507 1989 Erik Van Lancker (Bel) 242 40.187 1988 Jelle Nijdam (Ned) 242 37.386 1987 Joop Zoetemelk (Ned) 242 38.943 1986 Steven Rooks (Ned) 242 39.665 1985 Gerrie Knetemann (Ned) 242 37.446 1984 Jacques Hanegraaf (Ned) 242 40.584 1983 Phil Anderson (Aus) 247 41.434 1982 Jan Raas (Ned) 242 38.354 1981 Bernard Hinault (Fra) 237 39.741 1980 Jan Raas (Ned) 237 41.417 1979 Jan Raas (Ned) 238 39.507 1978 Jan Raas (Ned) 237 37.803 1977 Jan Raas (Ned) 230 39.894 1976 Freddie Maertens (Bel) 230 39.078 1975 Eddie Merckx (Bel) 230 37.231 1974 Gerrie Knetemann (Ned) 238 38.963 1973 Eddie Merckx (Bel) 238 35.650 1972 Walter Planckaert (Bel) 237 37.653 1971 Frans Verbeeck (Bel) 233 37.622 1970 Georges Pintens (Bel) 240 37.745 1969 Gudio Reybrouck (Bel) 259 40.782 1968 Harry Steevens (Ned) 245 41.704 1967 Arie den Hartog (Ned) 213 43.711 1966 Jean Stablinski (Fra) 302 38.649 Women Year First Second Third 2002 Leontien Van Moorsel (Ned) Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Katherine Bates (Aus) 2001 Debby Mansveld (Ned) Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Leontien Van Moorsel (Ned)