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38th Amstel Gold Race - CDM

Netherlands, April 20, 2003

Main Page    Course Map    Start List    Results & Report

Complete Live Report

Start time: 10:20 CET
Estimated finish time: 16:30 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
The riders have taken the start from Maastricht after a short neutralized ride. Three riders did not take the start today: Koldo Gil and Joaquin Rodriguez (ONCE-Eroski) and Sergio Mariangeli (Domina Vacanze-Elitron). Blood tests were also carried out for the Lotto-Domo, Team fakta, and Marlux teams. Marlux rider Mauricio Ardila was not deemed fit to start and therefore was not allowed to ride.

10:33 CET
The first breakaway of the day came from Paul Van Hyfte of CSC, but this was short-lived.

10:45 CET, 239 km to go
After a quick attack from Thomas Eriksen (CSC) and Matthe Pronk (Bankgiroloterij), another move has gone with Vincent van der Kooij (Bankgiroloterij) and Roberto Petito (Fassa Bortolo), and they have a ten second gap. The early moves aren't quite sticking yet.

11:05 CET, 224 km to go
Vincent van der Kooij and Roberto Petito have been pulled back by the field, and another eight riders have tried unsuccessfully to break clear. So far the pace is being set by the Fassa Bortolo team.

11:15 CET, 218 km to go
A new break has managed to go, this time with a little more horsepower. Paul Van Hyfte is once again on the attack, along with Bram de Groot (Rabobank), Gregory Rast (Phonak), Marek Rutkiewicz (Cofidis), Alexander Shefer and Stefano Zanini (Saeco), Jose Luis Rubiera (US Postal), and Bart Voskamp (Bankgiroloterij). They currently have a 30" gap.

11:29 CET, 204 km to go
The race has been fairly quick, with 44km covered in the first hour. The break of eight is still away, with a lead of about 48".

11:50 CET, 188 km to go
The eight leaders have stretched their lead to well over a minute as they reach the Cauberg for the first time. The course climbs the Cauberg three times today, including the uphill finish.

The weather is perfect for a fast race, sunny skies, 20 degree temperatures, and very little wind.

12:00 CET
Frank Vandenbroucke, a possible contender for victory today, said before the start that he's ready for the Cauberg.

"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 break
Photo © CN
Click for larger image

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
The eight leaders are working well together and continue to extend their lead. At the moment they have 2'15" over the field.

12:55 CET
Cyclingnews spoke to British pro Roger Hammond (Palmans-Collstrop) before the start in Maastricht to see how his classics campaign was going.

"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
The lead has decreased for the leaders up front, indicating that the fast-moving field is unwilling to let them get too far ahead. The advantage topped out around 2'30". Marek Rutkiewicz of Cofidis had to drop back from the break with mechanical problems, so the seven remaining escapees have about 2'15" on the field.

13:20 CET

Armstrong
Photo © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

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
those."

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
The gap is starting to tumble now, as the leaders are down to a 1'45" with around 120km to race.

13:45 CET
The leaders managed to regain a little time on the field, but their gains were lost as quickly as they were made. The gap is still around 1'45".

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
The leaders are holding somewhat steady, with their advantage rising and falling slightly. At the moment the gap between the break and the peloton is about 1'40".

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).

14:15 CET

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
The leaders are now within 100km of the finish, holding a 1'45" advantage on the field. Van Hyfte sat up after being dropped from the break and is now back in the main group.

14:20 CET

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
2 Olivia Gollan
3 Edita Pucinskaite

14:40 CET, 75 km to go
The leaders still held an advantage of 1'25" as they hit the Cauberg for the second time. The peloton is making up ground, although Fassa Bortolo has decided to let some other teams take over the work. There is an advantage to not pulling the break back too quickly, as there will surely be counter attacks this far from the finish.

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
The crunch time is approaching. The leaders have only 40" over the field, which is now being driven by Lotto-Domo. At the same time, Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo) has fallen as the race passed through Maastricht, but he's back up and chasing.

15:02 CET, 62km to go
Verbrugghe is back in the field, and the break is on the verge of being caught by the peloton. Just as they're caught, there's a crash at the back of the field. Cadel Evans has gone down, along with Gabriele Balducci and Roger Beuchat. Evans and Beuchat are up and moving, but Balducci might be out of action.

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
A new move of three has gone clear with an advantage of 43". In the group are Fabio Sacchi (Saeco), Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), and Bram Schmitz (Bankgiroloterij).

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

Boogie time?
Photo © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

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
The advantage for the three leaders if up to 43" as Rabobank continues to chase.

15:33 CET, 36km to go
The race has averaged just over 40 km/h over five hours of racing.

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
The gap is falling slightly, down to 35" between the three leaders (Sacchi, Basso, Schmitz) and the peloton. These three are working well together, but at this point in the race they face a difficult task in trying to stay away.

15:39 CET, 32km to go
The leaders are indeed being reeled in by the field, as a number of favourites start to move forward. Armstrong is looking comfortable on the climbs, moving up along with Viatcheslav Ekimov. Michele Bartoli is up front as well, but may still lacks a bit of form to defend his title this year.

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
Verbrugghe and Perdiguero are back in the field, but the trio of Sacchi, Basso, and Schmitz are hanging on out front. The peloton is flying now, stretched out almost entirely single-file. The back of the pack is not a good place to be right now.

15:46 CET, 29km to go
The course is quite dangerous now, and the combination of narrow roads and the occasional poorly parked car are forcing the riders to be extremely attentive. Schmitz has dropped his two companions on the next climb as the field closes in. The leaders are watching each other in the field, and the chase is suddenly a bit less organized.

15:54 CET, 20km to go
Up front Schmitz has been joined by four more riders as Basso and Sacchi were caught by the peloton.

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
Right after the descent, the race now hits the Eyserbos climb. The favourites are well placed up front, carefully watching each other waiting for the moves to start. Vinokourov has moved up front for Telekom. Armstrong is up front, but apparently without teammates.

16:00 CET, 17km to go
Matthias Kessler has launched the first attack for Telekom, and it's Armstrong who goes after him. Boogerd joins him, and sudddenly there are three men away. World Cup leader Peter Van Petegem appears to be in some difficulty.

Rebellin has just escaped the group and is bridging the gap to the leading three.

16:03 CET, 15km to go
Bartoli has come up to the leaders along with a number of strong riders. Saeco's Danilo Di Luca is in the group, as is Francesco Casagrande. Neither Boogerd nor Armstrong has any teammates in this move. Di Luca is setting the pace on the climb of the Fromberg, a 7% rise. Armstrong is on his wheel, marked by Boogerd.

16:05 CET, 14km to go
Saeco has the slight advantage with two riders in the group, but most of the big favourites are on their own, waiting for the big showdown.

16:09 CET, 11km to go
Francesco Casagrande has attacked and is now alone. The Italian has never won Amstel Gold, but looks to be in good form today. He has a small gap over two riders who are trying to bridge the gap. Angel Vicioso (ONCE) and a rider from Saeco.

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
Casagrande has been pulled back by Armstrong, Boogerd, Di Luca, and several others. Boogerd decides to keep the pace high as Vinokourov tries to make contact behind. Armstrong is watching Casagrande.

16:14 CET, 7km to go
Bartoli has been caught out and sits in a chase group behind the leaders. Casagrande tries another attack on a false flat, but Boogerd digs in to pull him back, then carry on the attack himself. Armstrong is taking up the chase to Boogerd, noticing that Telekom was not doing the work.

16:16 CET, 7km to go
Armstrong takes a drink and throws the bottle as he leaps to catch the wheel of Kessler, who tries another attack. The pace is extremely high in the lead group, and the leaders are surely nervous knowing that his will be an attacking finale.

Quick.Step-Davitamon and Fassa Bortolo are two teams that have completely missed this move.

16:18 CET, 5km to go
Armstrong is looking comfortable up front. The attacks are continuing as Vinokourov tries his hand with an acceleration. Boogerd is now sitting in last position, wondering how to handle the closing kilometres.

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
Vinokourov is persisting with his solo effort, and the chasers are just looking at each other! They're in Valkenberg with just 2km to race. It's a dangerous time to let Vino go.

16:21 CET, 1km to go
Vinokourov has 15" at the foot of the Cauberg, while the others are waiting to attack on the climb. The tension!

16:22 CET, Finish
Vinokourov is absolutely burying himself up the climb of the Cauberg. He tries to get out of the saddle but it's not possible.

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

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