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38th Amstel Gold Race - CDM
Netherlands, April 20, 2003
Gutsy Vinokourov beats the odds
By Jeff Jones in Valkenburg
An inspired and combative ride by Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov has given him the honours in the 38th Amstel Gold Race, his first ever win in a one day classic. Attacking the 10 man leading group with 5 kilometres to go, Vinokourov expended all he had on the final climb of the Cauberg to hold off pre-race favourite Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and Danilo Di Luca (Saeco). There were only four seconds in it at the end, and Vinokourov made sure that he didn't celebrate until he crossed the line.
"It was very hard," Vinokourov said at the post-race press conference. "I thought it would be too hard to leave it to a sprint, and we had [Telekom teammate] Matthias Kessler there anyway. At one kilometre to go I could see the signs for 900m, 800m to go and I thought the finish would never come. But when I saw the cars behind me I knew that the gap was at least 15 seconds, I had to give everything for the win, because I didn't want to lose in the last 50m."
"It was important to me because I've never won a one day race. Even more important was the fact that it was the Amstel Gold Race - to win a World Cup race is magnifique."
Vinokourov also described the last month of racing after he won Paris-Nice in March. "Of course it was stressful, especially emotionally," he said, referring to the death of his friend and compatriot Andrei Kivilev in that race. "In Russia and also in Kasakhstan it's a tradition that 40 days after someone dies, we remember them again as they take their final farewell. Easter Sunday was exactly 40 days after the death of Andrei Kivilev. I thought of him on the victory podium and there was a little pride that I could honour him once more for the last time with this victory."
The World Cup lead stayed with Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo), who had enough in reserve from winning two in a row to stay in front. But the Lotto-Domo man was clearly not at the same level of form as he has been in the past two weeks, and finished nearly four minutes down in 80th place.
Van Petegem had no excuses, either about the way his team rode to try and control the race or his own performance. "I think that having the leader of the World Cup in the team, the guys found it nice to ride in front. It wasn't too hard. But when it came down to it I didn't have the legs."
Van Petegem will now turn his energies to Liège-Bastogne-Liège next weekend, where he hopes to salvage some more World Cup points in order to keep his lead until the second half of the season beginning in August.
How it unfolded
The 2003 Amstel Gold Race field departed from Maastricht's Central Markt in bright sunshine and a light breeze, with 250 km of narrow roads and 31 climbs in front of them. Only one rider was prevented from joining the bunch - Marlux's Mauricio Ardilla - who had a high hematocrit and was prevented from starting.
After a fast start from Maastricht, the first attack of the day came from CSC's Paul Van Hyfte. Although this failed, he was eventually able to get away in a group of eight after 32 km. 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) all joined Van Hyfte on the attack, with the break being closely monitored by defending champion Michele Bartoli's Fassa Bortolo team.
This break contained some serious horsepower, thus unlike many other World Cup races, it wasn't allowed to get a 10-15 minute lead. Instead, the Fassa Bortolo boys pulled the bunch so that the gap hovered between two and three minutes, so that the team leaders could strike whenever they saw fit. The controlled tempo and the calm conditions also meant that the peloton stayed largely together for the majority of the race.
Both Van Hyfte and Rutkiewicz were dropped from the break, reducing it to six riders, and it was only a matter of time before the peloton made up its mind to close the gap. The leaders survived two out of three climbs of the Cauberg before the crunch came shortly before the Bemelerberg with 62 km to go, having spent over 150 kilometres in front.
The race didn't stay static for long, as the counter attacks happened almost immediately. Fabio Sacchi (Saeco), Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) and Bram Schmitz (Bankgiroloterij) quickly opened up a 40 second lead, forcing the Rabobank team to put five men on the front in pursuit. The pace lifted a notch and with eight climbs in the last 35 km, the massive bunch began to break up, with riders like Boogerd, Armstrong, Di Luca, Kessler, and Bartoli all near the front.
At 32 km to go, Lotto-Domo's Rik Verbrugghe, sporting silver-dyed hair and road rash from an earlier crash, set off in pursuit of the trio with Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze). The duo pulled back the gap to a handful of seconds, but were mowed down by the orange Rabobank train, which was intent on setting things up for Boogerd in the finale.
On the Eyserbosweg with 19 km to go, Saeco's Danilo Di Luca drove it hard, trying to cause a split. Armstrong and Boogerd followed him up all the way, but it was Telekom's Matthias Kessler who countered hard over the top. On the way down, he was joined by Armstrong, Boogerd, Rebellin, Bartoli, Di Luca, and the remnants of the peloton, which had at last succumbed to the pace.
Then it was the turn of Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) to go with just 15 km to go. The Italian was looking good, but was chased down by Angel Vicioso and Danilo Di Luca, who caught him at the foot of the penultimate climb, the Keutenberg, with 11 km to go. Casagrande rode away from these two on the steep grade, but behind him the other leaders were coming up fast. Over the top, there were nine men left: Casagrande (Lampre), Boogerd (Rabobank), Armstrong (US Postal-Berry Floor). Kessler (Telekom), Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Vicioso (ONCE), Di Luca, Astarloa (Saeco), Scarponi (Domina Vacanze). Telekom's Alexandre Vinokourov buried himself to get across to them, forming the final selection of 10 men.
The closing kilometres were full of cat and mouse tactics, with Armstrong and Boogerd looking to be the strongest, each marking the other. But when Vinokourov accelerated through Sibbe with five kilometres to go, no-one chased. That was fatal, as all the remaining riders in the break wanted to save themselves for the final assault on the Cauberg, and hoped that Vino would run out of gas.
He didn't. The Kazakh winner of Paris-Nice put 15 seconds into the chasers as he rode through the massive crowds at the foot of the Cauberg with 1 kilometre to go. He knew he had to give everything to stay clear, and it was evident by the way he wrestled his bike up the climb that he was in a lot of pain. His gap was too great and the charge behind came too late, allowing Vinokourov to take a hard fought victory atop the Cauberg, not celebrating until he had crossed the line.
Michael Boogerd led Di Luca home in the sprint for second, proving that he was the favourite in an uphill sprint, and also taking his fourth podium place in this race in five years. But today he was beaten by a better fighter, and no-one in Valkenburg could deny that Alexandre Vinokourov earned his bouquet.
Images by Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Elmar Krings
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by Jeff Tse/www.jefftse.com/cycling
Images by Elmar Krings
Images by Siegie/vdb-online.be
1 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 6.01.03 2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 0.04 3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco 4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 5 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Team Telekom 6 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Lampre 0.06 7 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 8 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 0.08 9 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 0.12 10 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Team Saeco 0.20 11 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 0.31 12 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 13 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio 0.46 14 Óscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 15 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 16 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 17 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 18 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 19 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 20 Mario Aerts (Bel) Team Telekom 21 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 22 Ellis Rastelli (Ita) Gerolsteiner 23 Denis Lunghi (Ita) Alessio 24 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre 25 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco 26 Óscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 27 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Jean Delatour 28 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 29 Marcos Serrano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 30 Didier Rous (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 31 David Canada Gracia (Spa) Quick.Step-Davitamon 32 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast 33 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.58 34 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team CSC 1.03 35 Andrea Noè (Ita) Alessio 36 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 1.09 37 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 1.13 38 Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) iBanesto.com 1.26 39 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 2.53 40 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Team fakta 3.41 41 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 42 René Jörgensen (Den) Team fakta 43 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 44 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 45 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team fakta 46 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco 47 Frank Høj (Den) Team fakta 48 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 49 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 50 Médéric Clain (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 51 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 52 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 53 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC 54 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf 55 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 56 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 57 Pierre Bourquenoud (Swi) Jean Delatour 58 Fabien De Waele (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 59 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 60 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 61 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 62 Franck Bouyer (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 63 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 64 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 65 Udo Bölts (Ger) Gerolsteiner 66 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Lotto-Domo 67 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) iBanesto.com 68 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 69 Matthé Pronk (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 70 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 71 Eladio Jiménez (Spa) iBanesto.com 72 Gerben Löwik (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 73 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Lampre 74 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 75 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 76 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 77 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 78 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom 79 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo 80 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 81 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo 82 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 83 Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Telekom 84 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Team Saeco 85 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio 3.58 86 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio 87 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Alessio 88 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo 4.09 89 José Iván Gutiérrez (Spa) iBanesto.com 4.42 90 Andrea Ferrigato (Ita) Alessio 5.30 91 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio 92 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 93 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 94 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone 95 Alexandr Shefer (Kaz) Team Saeco 96 José Azevedo (Por) O.N.C.E.-Eroski 97 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 98 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo 7.17 99 Bram Schmitz (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 100 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 101 Bert Hiemstra (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team 102 Christian VandeVelde (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Fl 7.25 103 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 104 Fabrice Gougot (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems 105 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 106 Stefan Kupfernagel (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems 107 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 108 Marco Milesi (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval 109 Thorsten Rund (Ger) Team Coast 110 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre 111 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) iBanesto.com 112 Tom Stremersch (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 8.33 113 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank 114 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre 115 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 116 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 117 Bekim Christensen (Den) Team Coast 118 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Team Saeco 119 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 120 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Gerolsteiner 121 Emmanuel Magnien (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 122 Kurt Van Landeghem (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago World Cup standings after round 4 1 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 200 pts 2 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco 117 3 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Telekom 100 4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 100 5 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 90 6 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco 86 7 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 79 8 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 77 Teams 1 Saeco 33 2 Quick-Step 26 3 Telekom 24 4 Fassa Bortolo 24