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38th Amstel Gold Race - CDM
Netherlands, April 20, 2003
Start time: 10:20 CET
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Amstel Gold Race, the fourth round of the World Cup. This year the race has moved up a week in the schedule, coming before the mid-week Flèche Wallonne and next Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Another significant change this year is that the race will finish on the top of the climb of the Cauberg rather than with the traditional flat finish in Maastricht.
10:22 CET, Start
10:45 CET, 239 km to go
11:05 CET, 224 km to go
11:15 CET, 218 km to go
11:29 CET, 204 km to go
11:50 CET, 188 km to go
The weather is perfect for a fast race, sunny skies, 20 degree temperatures, and very little wind.
"The change in the parcours is certainly better for me," he commented. As for favourites, VDB will be watching Rabobank, or "the orange train," as he called them. "Boogerd looks to be the best. And (Peter) Van Petegem, in the condition that he's in at the moment, a third time is possible for him."
12:20 CET, 164 km to go
The breaks is going well, stretching its lead to two minutes. Rubiera punctured a few minutes ago, but has rejoined the leaders. The race has covered 86 km in two hours.
Meanwhile, Fassa Bortolo continues to lead the chase from behind. Phonak's Bert Grabsch has abandoned.
12:45 CET, 155 km to go
"It's been going alright," he said. "I was up there in Paris-Roubaix and Gent-Wevelgem was also a good race for me."
How about today's Amstel Gold? "It's a difficult race. Unless you know the parcours really well it's very hard to know when to be in front and when not to be. It's a race that I've done two or three times but normally it's starting to get a late for me already. This year I feel better now so I hope it's going to go a little better for me today."
"There are two of us protected: me and Fabien De Waele. We're the guys that don't have to look out for anything and the guys and look after us. We're not a team like US Postal where they have one guy and that's it. If we have a guy that's going good then we change everything on the road so it's not really an important thing for us."
13:10 CET, 136 km to go
Lance Armstrong (US Postal) said before the start that he was feeling good,
and saving everything for later. When asked if the Netherlands were like home,
he replied, "Second or third or fourth home - one of
Does Lance like Amstel? "No I don't like it...I love it! It's been good. Not only the Amstel race. All the Amstels, the World Championships - it's been a nice few years here."
It's a race he loves, but he doesn't necessarily count to heavily on his own chances. "I don't know why [everybody mentions me as a favourite]. But I think the favourites are obvious - Van Petegem's a favourite, the Rabo's are favourites."
Given the finish on the Cauberg, Armstrong was asked who he feared more, Boogerd or Freire. "Boogerd. Uphill finish. I think with the new course it's better to wait. We'll see. I've never done [the Cauberg] in a sprint."
13:26 CET, 120 km to go
Meanwhile, the women's race was for the most part all together with 65km of the 114km covered. Some small groups were off the back as they passed through Berg en Terblijt, but the peloton was largely intact. The women's race should finish shortly after 14:00.
14:00 CET, 105 km to go
Paul Van Hyfte was the second rider to lose contact with the leaders following Marek Rutkiewicz's mechanical problems. Van Hyfte was having trouble maintaining contact, and eventually he popped. He trails the leaders by half a minute and will likely get pulled in by the field.
The remaining six riders out front are Bram de Groot (Rabobank), Alexandr Shefer and Stefano Zanini (Saeco), Gregory Rast (Phonak),José Luis Rubiera (US Postal) and Bart Voskamp (Bankgiroloterij).
Cyclingnews also spoke with Team fakta's Australian Scott Sunderland before the start to get his thoughts on the race.
"I feel pretty good - it's been a pretty heavy week," he explained. "I feel fresh enough. I'll just see how it's going to be. I don't think I should wait until the final to try and do something. The second time over the Cauberg, where there's 80 km to go until 40 km to go, there's not a lot of hills, you come back here to the city, and I'll be looking to see if somebody's doing something or even have a go myself. There's quite a bit of flat there and if the teams aren't well organised it's a bit of poker."
14:17 CET, 97 km to go
Nicole Cooke from Great Britain has won the 114km women's Amstel Gold Race! Cooke won by about 30-40 metres. She was part of a three woman break which was swept up by the field as they raced up the Cauberg, however Cooke was strong enough to stay clear. Australia's Olivia Gollan took the bunch sprint for second.
Women's top three (unofficial):
1 Nicole Cooke
14:40 CET, 75 km to go
The weather has turned a bit cooler as the clouds have started to roll in. Telekom's Daniele Nardello has abandoned the race.
14:55 CET, 65km to go
15:02 CET, 62km to go
Asked before the race whether he could win an uphill sprint at Amstel, Zabel said, "it's a good question, one that I've been asking myself. It's true that the finish reduces my chances..."
15:15 CET, 51km to go
In fact it was evidently Cadel Evans who went down in the crash a few minutes ago, not Zabel. But he is back in the field.
15:20 CET, 46km to go
The trio has established itself well, with a gap of nearly 50" to the peloton. Things are getting more serious, however, as Rabobank has moved to the head of the field to take over the pace-setting.
Winner in 1999 and third last year, Michael Boogerd is a hot favourite today and leader of the Rabobank team. Boogerd's chances are probably better than teammate Oscar Freire's given the uphill finish on the Cauberg.
15:28 CET, 41km to go
15:33 CET, 36km to go
Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches La Boulangère), riding his first Amstel Gold Race, has crashed after brushing a car parked at the side of the road. He landed in the dirt and doesn't look to be too badly hurt.
15:37 CET, 33km to go
15:39 CET, 32km to go
Rik Verbgurgghe (Lotto-Domo) and Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze-Elitron) have just moved clear in an attempt to bridge the gap to the three leaders, whose advantage is under 20".
15:44 CET, 29km to go
15:46 CET, 29km to go
15:54 CET, 20km to go
Sylvain Chavanel was evidently unable to rejoin the field after his crash, and is out of the race. This means Brioches La Boulangere is down to Didier Rous, Emmanuel Magnien, and Franck Bouyer.
The peloton has just climbed the Kruisberg, with Marc Wauters leading the Rabobank train and Lance Armstrong and Michele Bartoli right up front.
15:58 CET, 18km to go
16:00 CET, 17km to go
Rebellin has just escaped the group and is bridging the gap to the leading three.
16:03 CET, 15km to go
16:05 CET, 14km to go
16:09 CET, 11km to go
Keutenberg, which hits 22% at certain sections. Casagrande is putting both of these riders in difficulty on the steepest sections of the climb. He's moving clear and looking like a force to be reckoned with.
16:11 CET, 9km to go
16:14 CET, 7km to go
16:16 CET, 7km to go
Quick.Step-Davitamon and Fassa Bortolo are two teams that have completely missed this move.
16:18 CET, 5km to go
Vinokourov gets a gap, and suddenly Boogerd launches himself from the rear to the front and goes after Vino. Armstrong once again marks the move and sets off in pursuit. Vinokourov is holding his gap and hammering downhill.
16:21 CET, 2km to go
16:21 CET, 1km to go
16:22 CET, Finish
Behind the others are still watching each other and nobody's attack yet. Boogerd goes suddenly, but it's going to be too late. Vino gives it everything, and by the top he's done it! At the last possible moment he raises his arms in victory, not even looking behind.
Boogerd gets second mere seconds after Vinokourov, followed by Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin.
The order over the line looks like this:
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Telekom 2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco 4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 5 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Telekom 6 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre 7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 8 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service