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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

40th Amstel Gold Race - PT

Netherlands, April 17, 2005

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Di Luca foils the Rabo plan

By Jeff Jones in Valkenburg

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) confirmed his status as a favourite for the 40th Amstel Gold Race by outsprinting Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) and a bunch of 30 riders to the top of the Cauberg on a misty day in southern Limburg. Di Luca is no stranger to this climb, finishing third here in the 1998 U23 World Championships, third in the 2003 Amstel Gold Race and fourth in last year's Amstel. After a generally disappointing 2004 season, the attacker from Abruzzo is back.

"This was a great win for me today," he said after the finish. "It was a great race and my (Liquigas) team was great, too. Today the race was really hard; the weather was bad, it was cold and humid and that doesn't make your legs feel good. With the early break, it was a strange Amstel. We rode at a regular pace behind the break most of the day and so a lot of riders were together at the end.

"In the sprint, I knew that the Cauberg is a good finish for my characteristics. Boogerd took off early as he usually does and then I managed to get up to him and win it.

Boogerd, who already had finished second three times and had one win in the Amstel up until today, hadn't planned to do the sprint for himself. Instead, he and the Rabobank team tried to orchestrate a leadout on the Cauberg for Oscar Freire, with Erik Dekker, Karsten Kroon, and Boogerd as the last three men. But when Boogerd went hard with 300m to go, Freire couldn't hold his wheel, while Di Luca had a relatively comfortable run up to the line.

One of the pre-race favourites,
Photo ©: Sirotti
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"It isn't a good feeling," said a disappointed Boogerd at the end. "We arranged the sprint for Oscar. First Erik Dekker and then Kroon. Than a Phonak rider passed us, so I jumped on his wheel, but he stopped. So I went further and thought Oscar was still in my wheel...I didn't lose the sprint. I was there for Freire. He said he was very strong and then normally he wins."

When asked later if he had spoken to Freire post-race, Boogerd gave a round "No" in response. The disappointment was there for everyone to see.

That didn't stop Danilo Di Luca from celebrating, and the Italian said, "I want to dedicate my win today to my grandmother, who passed away recently. She was one of the few people who helped me last year, it was a bad year for me. I had problems with my health and then people didn't believe in me. But I feel good now and finally it's my year.

"After this win today, I'm feeling relaxed and looking to L-B-L. It's my favourite race and I'm really hoping to do well there," finished Di Luca.

Third place went to Mirko Celestino (Domina Vacanze), who showed that he is also in form for next week's Ardennes classics. "Today turned out to be a pretty good race for me," he said afterwards. "This kind of weather is good for me because I don't like the heat. And we all knew that Di Luca would be good after his win (in Pais Vasco)...but I'm satisfied with my performance today because I ended up on the podium and hope it will help out team with the Giro d'Italia coming up."

How it unfolded

Fog created an eerie background
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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194 riders gathered in cold, misty, and damp conditions in Maastricht's Grote Markt ready for 251 km of riding through the hilly district of southern Limburg, with 31 climbs to master. The weather didn't change at all throughout the day, much to the dismay of the Dutch TV network NOS that was due to cover it live. It was deemed too dangerous to put any helicopters in the air with an airport very close by, and television viewers had to be content with images from fixed cameras on the side of the road, including at the finish on the Cauberg.

That didn't deter the riders of course, and it took only four kilometres before the break of the day was started by Belgian Erwin Thijs (MrBookmaker) and Dutchman Alain Van Katwijk (Shimano-Memory Corp). The pair were pursued and caught by Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole) and Andriy Grivko (Domina Vacanze) at km 10, and that was that. After 18 km, the gap was 2'20, then it grew to 5'55 at km 30, and 12'30 at km 57, the maximum advantage enjoyed by the four. 46 kilometres were covered in the first hour in the damp, and the peloton was happy to let these men ride.

Christophe Moreau (Credit Agricole)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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The gap remained fairly steady at 12'00 after the first passage of the Cauberg (km 64) and the break started to settle down. The peloton began to increase the tempo after 110 km and brought the gap down to 10'10, and from then on, the break was fighting a losing battle. It became even harder when Van Katwijk was dropped and Grivko punctured at km 125, leaving just Moreau and Thijs to tough it out, 9'20 ahead of the bunch. The two chasers gradually fell back and were caught on the second passage of the Cauberg at km 152, with the two leaders holding out well at 8'00.

The next move of interest came after 193 km when Leon van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto) counter-attacked from the peloton, while the two leaders were still 5'00 in front. Van Bon was caught by Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) after a few kilometres, and the pair made big inroads into the leaders, with the peloton following at 0'30. Jens Voigt (CSC) tried and failed to get across to the two chasers, and at the foot of the Kruisberg at km 227, Van Bon and Wesemann had closed to Moreau and Thijs, while the Rabobank-led peloton breathed down their necks at 0'15.

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas - Bianchi)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
Click for larger image

After being away for 220 km, Moreau and Thijs lost contact on the Kruisberg. On the following climb - the steep Eyserbosweg - Wesemann rode away from Van Bon, but was joined by David Etxebarria (Liberty), Mark Lotz (Quick.Step) and Karsten Kroon (Rabobank). The quartet made it to the top of the Fromberg (km 233) with 22 seconds lead over the peloton, and pulled it out to 35 seconds on the penultimate climb, the Keutenberg, with 12 km to go.

A chase group of 10 riders formed behind the four leaders, with all the big riders: Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Rodriguez (Saunier Duval), Leukemans (Davitamon-Lotto), Valverde (Illes Balears), Sinkewitz (Quick.Step), Celestino (Domina), Kirchen (Fassa), Di Luca (Liquigas), Boogerd and Freire (Rabobank). The 10 became 30 with 9 km to go, leaving the four dangling in front at 10 seconds. But on the descent of the Sibbegrubbe, just before the final climb of the Cauberg, it all came together for a "bunch" sprint.

Big crowds
Photo ©: Jon Devich
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Rabobank clicked into action on the Cauberg, hoping to lead their World Champ Freire out for the victory. Erik Dekker set the tempo at the foot of the climb, before Kroon took over at 500m to go. Then it was Boogerd, who had Freire on his wheel before Di Luca muscled up on the left. Boogerd lifted the tempo with 300m out, and the wheels fell off the Rabobank orange bus as Freire dropped off Boogerd's wheel. The lanky Dutchman realised too late that he was Rabobank's only chance, but couldn't do anything when Di Luca powered past him with 150m to go to take a big win. Boogerd held on for second ahead of Mirko Celestino, but again had to be satisfied with a minor placing.

Race day photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Elmar Krings

Images by Andrea Hübner/www.velo-photos.com

Results - 251 km

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                               6.21.07
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                               
3 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                         
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                           
5 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                  
6 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quickstep                                             
7 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                        
8 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                  
9 Jerome Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                         
10 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                           
11 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                                             
12 Igor Astarloa Ascasibar (Spa) Barloworld - Valsir                       0.10
13 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Illes Balears - Caisse d´Epargne          
14 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC                                                 
15 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Shimano - Memory Corp.                              
16 Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                  
17 Johan Coenen (Bel) MrBookmaker - SportsTech                                 
18 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                     
19 Pieter Mertens (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                          
20 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir                                   
21 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Liquigas - Bianchi                              0.17
22 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile                                             
23 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                                  0.21
24 Inigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                       
25 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                              
26 Jens Voigt (Ger) CSC                                                        
27 Axel Merckx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                           
28 Nicki Sørensen (Den) CSC                                                0.19
29 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir                   0.29
30 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                             0.33
31 Marc Lotz (Ned) Quickstep                                               0.36
32 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                                  
33 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                                
34 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) CSC                                                    
35 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile                                         0.42
36 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quickstep                                              
37 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep                                           0.47
38 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep                                                
39 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank                                            0.50
40 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Crédit Agricole                                 0.52
41 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                         1.58
42 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                      
43 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                        
44 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Crédit Agricole                                       
45 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                           
46 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Crédit Agricole                               2.02
47 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel                                    
48 Maarten Wijnants (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                        
49 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile                                                   
50 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank                                               
51 Massimo Codol (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                           
52 Konstantin Sivtsov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo                                      
53 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                          
54 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quickstep                                              
55 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas - Bianchi                                   
56 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, le crédit par téléphone                       
57 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre - Caffita                                      
58 Ivan Basso (Ita) CSC                                                        
59 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile                                         
60 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit par téléphone                     
61 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                           
62 Patxi Xabier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre - Caffita                     2.01
63 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                     
64 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                 2.14
65 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto                                      2.36
66 Benjamin Noval Gonzales (Spa) Discovery Channel                         3.02
67 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                                     
68 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                 3.36
69 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                      
70 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Illes Balears - Caisse d´Epargne              3.39
71 Preben Vanhecke (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                       
72 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                              
73 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems                               
74 Sergei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile                                                
75 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile                                                   
76 Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep                                             3.49
77 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                                  
78 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quickstep                                             
79 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - Caffita                                         
80 Fabian Jeker (Swi) Saunier Duval - Prodir                               4.09
81 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                       5.07
82 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker - SportsTech                                  
83 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Domina Vacanze                                      5.28
84 Paolo Valoti (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                           
85 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank                                           
86 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) Discovery Channel                                       
87 Angel Castresana Del Val (Spa) MrBookmaker - SportsTech                     
88 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française des Jeux                                  
89 Mauro Facci (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                             
90 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                                 
91 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems                                   
92 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                   
93 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Liquigas - Bianchi                                    
94 Matthew White (Aus) Cofidis, le crédit par téléphone                        
95 Bert Dewaele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                                
96 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                      5.39
97 Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC                                                 5.46
98 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Saunier Duval - Prodir                               5.53
99 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team            6.22
100 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                                   7.04
101 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Shimano - Memory Corp.                               
102 Frederik Willems (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                       
103 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                                  
104 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                                   
105 Pedro Arreitunandia (Spa) Barloworld - Valsir                              
106 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Cofidis, le crédit par téléphone                    
107 Jörg Jäksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                            
108 Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team    7.54
109 Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, le crédit par téléphone           
111 Benoit Joachim (Lux) Discovery Channel                                     
112 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis, le crédit par téléphone                      
113 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel                                     
115 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                         10.18
116 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                      
117 Tiaan Kannemeyer (RSA) Barloworld - Valsir                                 
118 Matthé Pronk (Ned) MrBookmaker - SportsTech                                
119 Eelke Van Der Wal (Ned) Shimano - Memory Corp.                             
120 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                  
121 Didier Rous (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                    12.02
122 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                           
123 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                       
124 Maxime Montfort (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                            
125 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Discovery Channel                           
126 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                          14.49
127 Unai Etxebarria Arana (Ven) Euskaltel - Euskadi                            
128 Benny De Schrooder (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                     
129 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française des Jeux                                   
130 Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                       
131 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                 15.55

ProTour standings

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep                                          112 pts
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              93
3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                              91
4 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                    79
5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                              75
6 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                          75
7 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                      70
8 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                     65
9 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                   61
10 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                                  55
11 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                      45
12 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne    43
13 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile                                        41
14 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                                 40
15 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team           36
16 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                           35
17 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems                         35
18 Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir          35
19 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile                                           33
20 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                           32
21 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                               31
22 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone              31
23 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Liquigas - Bianchi                           30
24 Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne           30
25 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Davitamon - Lotto                                30
26 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                25
27 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                              25
28 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC                                      25
29 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                       25
30 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi                          25
31 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                  25
32 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             25
33 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                      20
34 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux                           20
35 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                            20
36 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems         15
37 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                        15
38 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                15
39 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quickstep                                    11
40 Baden Cooke (Aus) Française des Jeux                                11
41 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quickstep                                      10
42 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto                                 10
43 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                     10
44 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                              7
45 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                                   7
46 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team            5
47 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                                5
48 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                5
49 José Angel Gomez Marchante (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir              5
50 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile                                        5
51 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                 5
52 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                 3
53 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                 1
54 Manuele Momri (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir                           1
55 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne             1
56 Vladimir Gussev (Rus) Team CSC                                       1
57 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                        1
58 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quickstep                                       1
59 David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone              1
60 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre - Caffita                               1

1 Davitamon-Lotto                                                     125 pts
2 Rabobank                                                            122
3 Fassa Bortolo                                                       122
4 Team CSC                                                            115
5 T-Mobile Team                                                       106
6 Phonak Hearing Systems                                               94
7 Quick Step                                                           89
8 Saunier Duval-Prodir                                                 85
9 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                   82
10 Liquigas-Bianchi                                                    76
11 Gerolsteiner                                                        71
12 Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                                          69
13 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                                    61
14 Credit Agricole                                                     60
15 Française Des Jeux                                                  56
16 Lampre-Caffita                                                      54
17 Bouygues Telecom                                                    38
18 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                                   33
19 Domina Vacanze                                                      31
20 Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                                      29


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