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40th Amstel Gold Race - PT
Netherlands, April 17, 2005
Di Luca foils the Rabo plan
By Jeff Jones in Valkenburg
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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 Teams 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