41st Amstel Gold Race - PT
Netherlands, April 16, 2006
Start List Results
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Anthony Tan and
Live coverage starts: 10:15 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:40 CEST
A sea of umbrellas
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
Welcome to Maastricht's rather wet
Grote Markt for the start of the 41st Amstel Gold Race, the baby of the spring
classics. Although the finish is only about 15 km away at the top of the Cauberg
in Valkenburg, the race is actually 253 km long. Figure that one out! Well,
it shouldn't put the Hindenburg V under too much stress anyway.
The route twists and turns its way through Limburg, which is the southernmost
tip of the Netherlands, and is wedged in between Belgium and Germany. Along
the way are 31 short, sharp climbs, with the finish at the top of the Cauberg.
The race also passes the Cauberg after 64 and 173 km.
Danilo Di Luca emerged out of the fog to beat Michael Boogerd and Mirko Celestino
in a small group sprint. But it was difficult for the general public to see
what went on because there were no TV images, as it was too dangerous to put
the helicopters into the air. Luckily, there was the Hindenburg IV...
As is usual when it's wet and 12
degrees, the riders wait until the last minute before signing on, and there
is a big rush to get up on stage where the crowd can see them all. After rolling
out of the Grote Markt at approximately 10:15, there is a short neutral section
before the race proper begins at 10:21.
The first climb is the Maasberg
after 9.6 km, as the riders head north along the Maas river.
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
10:37 CEST 12km/241km to go
The race passes through
Elsloo as it continues its northerly direction in the rain. There's also a bit
of wind around, which will make staying in front even more important than usual.
Most riders agree that it's a very selective race, and the wet weather is going
to make it even harder at the beginning.
10:49 CEST 20km/233km to go
We're now looping
back towards Maastricht, through Geleen and the second climb of the day, Adsteeg
(110m). Hopefully the rain will ease to drizzle and maybe we might be lucky
with some sun in the afternoon.
11:01 CEST 27km/226km to go
Climb two is now
behind the riders, who have only 29 more to do. So simple is it. They're now
entering the heart of Limburg, which is pleasant country to ride in. It's very
green, with small forests and smooth, narrow roads and paths to ride on. It's
very popular with recreational cyclists.
Rabobank always come into this race
as favourites, and usually don't disappoint, with a top three almost a certainty
with the likes of Michael Boogerd and Erik Dekker. Oscar Freire is also part
of the team, and while he possesses a useful sprint, he found last year that
the Cauberg was too much for him. That was unfortunate for Michael Boogerd,
who had been preparing to lead out Freire, thus sacrificed his own chances.
Still, he did well to finish second behind Danilo Di Luca. Boogerd has an impressive
record in this race, with one win, four seconds and a third.
Boogerd was in his usual smiling mood this morning at the start: "This weather
is great! Not like Curacao though," referring to the end of season ride at the
sunny Caribbean island.
Rabobank has another card to play
in 21 year-old Thomas Dekker, who is being tipped as the next big thing by the
Dutch press. Like Tom Boonen in Belgium, Dekker the Younger has all the expectation
on him: the question remains whether he can deliver as Boonen has done. But
Dekker has already proven himself on the ProTour circuit, winning Tirreno-Adriatico
this year and four races last year (two time trials and two road races). He's
a TT specialist, but he can handle himself in a bunch as well.
might not expect that I can already win the Amstel Gold Race," Dekker told Sportwereld.
"I'm after all only 21. I come to cry in the corner. Of course I've got a small
chance on a parcours where I've ridden my whole life as a young rider. In bed
I can ride the whole Amstel in my head. Left, uphill, downhill, right, village,
roundabout. I hope that there is an opening in the finale. If that doesn't happen
and we ride in a group to the Cauberg, then it's all for Oscar Freire. If I
feel good and a Rabobank rider wins this Amstel, then I'm satisfied."
Cyclingnews also spoke to him at the start, where he confirmed, "One
day I hope to be on winners list of this race. Probably, it isn't going to be
Referring to the bad weather he laughed: "My home is
in Italy, it's more suitable for training rides than in Holland."
11:28 CEST 44km/209km to go
The peloton passes
through the other side of Valkenburg but not the Cauberg yet. Another 20 km
have to be covered before the bunch reaches the finish line for the first time.
Climb 3, the Lange Raarberg, is done. Then the Bergseweg after 46 km.
Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Brian O'Connor
American Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto)
loves to ride in this Dutch classic: "I like this race very much," he told us
at the start. "There will be enormous orange crowds on the sidewalks, the atmosphere
is always great. Riding over here is very challenging, which I really like.
On the other hand, I don't know if I ever finished," the American laughed.
Asked about when he will be happy after this race, Horner didn't care about
the high risk of crashes with this kind of weather. "You know that's part of
cycling, but of course you don't want it to happen. If you think about it too
much, you'd better not start. The team counts on me; I'm one of the team leaders.
Maybe I can support someone in the finale or deliver something myself. Our tactic
should be to come into the picture as late as possible, still you need to ride
in front all the time because of all the hills."
An update from the race (and we'll
have more info very soon). Rolling through Beek after about 20 km, Frenchman
Christophe Moreau (AG2R) had a lead of about four minutes. Moreau was in the
early break last year, but he had three others for company.
Photo ©: Brian O'Connor
11:48 CEST 59km/194km to go
Moreau has been joined
by more: Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), Bram Schmitz
(T-Mobile) and René Weissinger (Skil-Shimano). The quintet have about 5 minutes
lead on the peloton as they approach the first passage of the finish line.
12:00 CEST 66km/187km to go
The leaders come
past the finish line for the first time, much to the the delight of the sponsors
product-fuelled crowds (there are a lot of both the sponsors product and people
at the finish). The gap has grown to 11'00, but was a maximum of 11'00.
12:16 CEST 78km/175km to go
The riders are heading
back into Maastricht now, through Berg en Terblijt, back into the city, then
southeast towards Cadier en Keer. The situation is now four riders in front:
Christophe Moreau (AG2R), Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com), Michael Albasini (Liquigas),
and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile), with Rabobank chasing.
Eleven minutes later,
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Johan Van Summeren (Davitamon-Lotto)
ad an incredibly good day in his first participation in the Amstel Gold Race
a couple of years ago. It didn't result in a win, but he did receive the trophy
Herman Kop for the most aggressive rider in the race. "I hope to do as well
as I did then. I don't mind the weather, though you never know how your legs
At the last time check, the break had 11 minutes on
12:40 CEST 96km/157km to go
The leaders are now
at the feedzone at Partij, having completed eight climbs. We'll get an updated
time check as soon as we can.
12:52 CEST 105km/148km to go
A Dutch champion
(Leon van Bon) in the only real Dutch classic has a mission: "This is an important
day for me," said Van Bon at the start in Maastricht. "The team is ready to
do really well. I was sick when the E3-prijs Harelbeke was on; a really bad
moment because the most important weeks of the season are very close then."
The leaders are now gradually climbing up to the highest point in the race,
the Drielandenpunt (320m), where the Netherlands meets Belgium and Germany.
That will be in 20 km or so.
13:01 CEST 109km/144km to go
The gap now decreased
to 6'50, due to the work of Rabobank guys in the front of peloton. De Groot,
Dekker and Posthuma were leading the chase.
13:11 CEST 116km/137km to go
We spoke to Unibet.com's
Erwin Thijs at the start, and he was very eager to get on with it. "I'm in a
good mood today because this is my weather!" he said. He's now part of the early
breakaway, which has just about reached the Drielandenpunt.
There's been an interesting development
in the break: René Weissinger (Skil-Shimano) has been disqualified by the commissaires
for motorpacing back on after a puncture at the 50km mark. That leaves us with
Christophe Moreau (AG2R), Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com), Michael Albasini (Liquigas),
and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) in front.
13:26 CEST 122km/131km to go
The gap has grown
again to 8'35, with Rabobank still making the pace behind the four leaders.
It's not really time to chase yet.
A bit of a weather update: it's still
wet, but there are glimpses of sunshine in between the rain showers. It's basically
been the same weather pattern as the last n weeks in this part of the
world. And it looks like continuing next week. Excellent.
The finish town of Valkenburg is
a popular destination for cycling. The Tour de France also has a stage in Valkenburg
on July 4 this year, and the European Championships are between July 12-16.
Valkenburg has 18,000 inhabitants and a bit of Roman history with some famous
caves. Verily, we are waxing lyrical today.
13:53 CEST 138km/115km to go
The climbs continue
as the race loops back again after its visit to the German border. With Eperheide
behind them, that's 14 climbs out of the way, with another 17 still to do. It's
a slow process of elimination, but after 200km, the peloton starts to thin down
There's also the matter of a four man breakaway to be caught,
but they are working harder than the bunch at the moment. Last year, Moreau
lasted around 200km in front. Let's see if he can beat that this year.
The last time check that we received
was 6'40, so the peloton has things well under control at this stage of the
14:04 CEST 144km/109km to go
The four leaders
power up the Gulperberg with a handy 7'14 over the peloton.
Moreau (AG2R) initiated the break, and was joined by Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com),
Michael Albasini (Liquigas), and Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile). Rene Weissinger was
also there, but got disqualified after pacing behind a car after a puncture.
Christophe Moreau (AG2R)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
14:06 CEST 146km/107km to go
Make that three
leaders, as we receive a report that Christophe Moreau (AG2R) has been dropped.
He's two minutes behind the leaders.
Also, in case you missed them,
we have plenty of photos from the start in Maastricht, and a few of the race
here for our live photo gallery.
Australian Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros)
could do well in these kinds of races, but he told us that he wouldn't be one
of the main men. "Our team is very strong today. I'll probably be in more of
a working role for Angel Vicioso."
14:17 CEST 155km/98km to go
Up the Plettenberg,
Eyserweg and Huls, the climbs start to come faster now. We still have three
leaders, Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), and Bram Schmitz
(T-Mobile), with Moreau falling further behind and the peloton keeping the gap
stable with some 100 km to travel.
Karsten Kroon (CSC)
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
CSC's Karsten Kroon was ready for
a good race today. "This is it; this is the day. I've been looking forward to
this race for a long time," said Kroon at the start.
It's drying up now and the riders
should have a slightly easier time of it in the finale.
14:31 CEST 167km/86km to go
The crowds are eagerly
waiting for the next passage of the Cauberg, which should be very soon now.
The umbrellas have been put away and it's just now a matter of keeping warm,
as it's still a little overcast.
The three leaders are looking a little
bit ragged now as they negotiate another climb, with Moreau now three minutes
14:39 CEST 171km/82km to go
Thijs leads the way
as they near the foot of the Cauberg for the second time. The crowds lining
the roads are very substantial, as usual.
The peloton still follows at 7'05,
so nothing much has changed there. And yes, it's still a seven man Rabobank
orange train in front. The peloton is quite large, as expected, well over 100
14:42 CEST 172km/81km to go
Thijs is back on
the front on the descent just before the Cauberg, with Schmitz and Albasini
following. They take a left hander and begin the climb. Really huge crowds here!
Posthuma and Flecha
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
14:44 CEST 173km/80km to go
Thijs leads all the
way up the steep climb, putting Schmitz in difficulty. The big Dutchman should
hang on until the top though. They pass the line for the second time, with over
five minutes lead.
Thijs' teammate Matthé Pronk didn't
care about the weather today: "I don't mind, probably it's even better for me,"
he said at the start. "I'll try to attack as soon as possible. My house is only
eleven kilometres away from Maastricht. I want to do well in my region."
Well, it was up to his teammate to get in the break today.
The peloton strings out with many
riders choosing shorter routes via the bike paths around the corners. The big
bunch is in Valkenburg now, just about to tackle the Cauberg. Weening and Flecha
are at the front. Boogerd is up there too, checking things out.
leaders are well over the top, through Berg en Terblijt now.
14:50 CEST 176km/77km to go
The gap is 4'30 at
the top, as Thomas Dekker waves to the crowd. Moreau has been caught.
Moreau has abandoned at the finish.
14:52 CEST 175km/78km to go
Posthuma drives the
peloton through the feed zone, with Weening and Flecha in tow.
leaders are on the Geulhemmerberg, climb number 22. Thijs is still the strongest.
14:56 CEST 177km/76km to go
and Weening are doing most of the work now. Rabobank, as usual, has done much
of the job in front today. Garzelli moves up, as does Kashechkin. The gap reduces
to 3'40. It's coming down fast now.
15:01 CEST 183km/70km to go
The pace eases in
the bunch as Maarten Tjallingii (Skil) chats to Boogerd while drinking a can
of coke. Matt Wilson rides up the side of the peloton, leading a teammate.
Although it's dry at the moment, the sky is very grey. It's not foggy like last
The bunch strings out again as the
race goes back into the centre of Maastricht. Flecha and Posthuma keep the Rabobank
train ticking over, 3'10 behind the three leaders.
(Cofidis) has crashed, but looks OK. He takes his time in getting back on the
We're almost back where we started
in Maastricht, but with over 180km covered now. Flecha leads the bunch in his
typical style, with forearms resting on the tops of the bars at 50 km/h.
15:13 CEST 190km/63km to go
The battle for position
is starting in the peloton, as it's so important being up front now. Rabobank
will push the pace as hard as it can on the next climbs to try and reduce the
bunch. The gap is 2'30.
Posthuma in front now, also using the forearms
on tops of handlebars position.
15:16 CEST 193km/60km to go
Schleck takes a turn
in front for CSC - the first variation we've seen for a while. Zberg takes a
shortcut on the bike path and finds himself in front of the peloton.
Among the leaders, Schmitz drops off Thijs and Albasini on the Bemelerberg.
15:17 CEST 194km/59km to go
Schmitz looks to
be history now as the two leaders have 30 seconds on the descent after the Bemelerberg.
15:22 CEST 196km/57km to go
The news that Schmitz
has been dropped sends T-Mobile to the front of the peloton. Now other teams
are trying to take the lead from Rabobank.
Wesemann attacks on the
Bemelerberg, and is marked by Flecha and a few others.
to pound away in front, with Michael Albasini struggling to hold his wheel,
1'40 in front.
15:24 CEST 197km/56km to go
The chasing group
grows with Steffen Wesemann, Kessler, Mazzoleni (T-Mobile), Juan Antonio Flecha,
Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Philippe Gilbert (FDJ), and Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step)
all there (a dozen in total), and a few more, but the peloton is chasing hard.
Schmitz is caught and dropped.
15:25 CEST 198km/55km to go
to keep the pressure on, but doesn't get much help.
The bunch is
now very strung out, with Langeveld in last wheel.
Thijs and Albasini
reach Cadier en Keer, climbing again.
15:27 CEST 199km/54km to go
Bettini is also in
the chasing group, which is slowly being caught by the peloton. The bunch has
split to pieces as a result of that attack.
Pozzato and Mazzoleni
do some strong turns.
15:29 CEST 200km/53km to go
Thijs is doing all
the work in the front group as they ride through a wet section of road. They
have 40 seconds on the chasing group of 13, which is dangling just in front
of the bunch. They're caught.
15:30 CEST 203km/50km to go
The leaders reach
Honthem with CSC's Sorensen attacking the bunch with Flecha, Pozzato and Kessler
able to follow. They catch Thijs and Albasini.
15:34 CEST 204km/49km to go
The peloton splits
again in pursuit, with a group of maybe 20 riders closing in on the six leaders.
Now it's a Gerolsteiner rider and Flecha going on the attack. Nope, all back
Not for long, Wesemann attacks. Baguet and Merckx mark
him, and Sorensen again.
15:37 CEST 206km/47km to go
The bunch strings
out in a crosswind, then the pace eases a bit. There are maybe 50 riders in
front, then a very long tail of chasers.
Kroon punctures, and is
chasing on behind the Phonak car.
15:39 CEST 208km/45km to go
Kroon passes the
Phonak car and reaches the Saunier Duval car. It's tricky getting back on through
the caravan, but he does it and moves up to the front straight away. That was
good work by Kroon, as he had no teammates to help him.
Johan Vansummeren (Davitamon) has attacked. Two riders chase, then the peloton
close behind. The Belgian is caught and Den Bakker does a turn through Mheer.
Den Bakker gets a gap and is joined
by Chavanel from Cofidis.
15:42 CEST 210km/43km to go
Mazzoleni and Horner join the leaders to form a sextet.
Paolo Bettini also rides across to
the leaders, then Baguet and Sinkewitz. Moerenhout is there and Benoît Joachim.
15:44 CEST 211km/42km to go
The leaders: Den
Bakker (Milram), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), Gusev and Joachim (Discovery),
Schumacher (Gerolsteiner), Mazzoleni, Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Bettini, Baguet
(Quick.Step), Moerenhout (Phonak), and Horner (Davitamon).
15:45 CEST 212km/41km to go
Bettini looks very
comfortable up in this group, but there's still a fair way to go. He's got Baguet
there to make the tempo and the Belgian champion does as they reach the Wolfsberg.
Interestingly, there are no Rabobank
riders in the lead group, which is 10 seconds ahead of the peloton.
Posthuma is bearing the marks of a crash.
15:46 CEST 213km/40km to go
Joachim does a turn
in front for his teammate Gusev. Meanwhile, Moerenhout sits last wheel. Rabobank
is mounting a serious chase with Flecha and Posthuma. That must be hurting.
Chavanel punctures out of the break.
Bad luck for the Frenchman. He won't get back.
15:48 CEST 213km/40km to go
The cooperation is
very ordinary as Baguet does a turn on the Wolfsberg. Rabobank is very organised
behind, with Flecha and Weening working to bring back the break, and they succeed.
Peloton back together.
15:51 CEST 215km/38km to go
with Astarloa and Bertagnolli. They get 10 seconds.
Erik Dekker now
makes the tempo on the Loorberg, with Boogerd on his wheel. Bettini keeps himself
Axel Merckx punctures. That's gonna
hurt, getting back on.
15:53 CEST 217km/36km to go
and Wesemann now have a nice gap of 10 seconds as they take another corner and
power along in front. The peloton is in full pursuit, led by Erik and Thomas
Dekker. Freire and Boogerd move up.
15:56 CEST 218km/35km to go
It's double Dekker
in front of the peloton, with Thomas and Erik sharing the work. Rabobank still
has the race in hand, but it's not easy. The leaders are just 6 seconds ahead.
Kroon sits in fifth wheel behind
the Rabobank train as Wesemann goes it alone in front.
Wesemann hammers along, looking very
smooth as usual. He has 7 seconds on the peloton, and checks behind him.
15:59 CEST 219km/34km to go
Erik Dekker sits
on the front at a comfortable chasing tempo. Moerenhout moves up again and puts
himself in a good spot before the Gulperberg.
16:01 CEST 221km/32km to go
his lead to 14-15 seconds as he reaches the narrow road before the Gulperberg.
He's flying along, looking very solid. Meanwhile, Ballan moves himself up to
the front in the dirt. Den Bakker attacks and then reaches for the little gear.
Wesemann is on the Gulperberg.
16:03 CEST 223km/30km to go
Den Bakker explodes
and Gerolsteiner comes up behind with a second front.
M. Zberg are dropped, along with half a dozen others on this step climb. Flecha
recovers a bit an tries to chase back on over the top. But he could be cooked
Schumacher leads the reduced peloton 15 seconds behind the impressive
16:04 CEST 225km/28km to go
The Kruisberg is
next, and it's the 27th climb. How long can Steffen Wesemann last in front?
He keeps looking behind, but he looks quite smooth. Schumacher, Rebellin and
Ivanov are the first three in the peloton.
16:05 CEST 227km/26km to go
It's a battle for
position again with the Rabos moving up behind the Gerolsteiner mini train.
Pozzato (Quick.Step) is there, then T-Mobile get on the front to try and slow
Kirchen (T-Mobile) has punctured.
16:07 CEST 228km/25km to go
Wese reaches into
his pocket for some food, and gets it. Maybe 50 riders left to chase him at
the moment. As always, it's an elimination race. 20 seconds.
16:08 CEST 230km/23km to go
As the sun starts
to shine at last, Wesemann takes another couple of corners and hits the Kruisberg.
The bunch is in a line behind him, led by Den Bakker.
Wese rides alone on the Kruisberg,
pursued by Den Bakker and Grivko. Boogerd is well placed, as is Kroon.
Erik Dekker flats and abandons the race. His work is done for the day.
16:10 CEST 232km/21km to go
Ivanov is also well
placed in front, while behind, riders are being dropped again.
Isasi (Euskaltel) suffers to hold on.
Grivko accelerates with Kroon
and Ivanov on his wheel. Ouch, this has really hurt the bunch.
16:12 CEST 233km/20km to go
Wesemann has 10 seconds
has the bunch splits to bits over the top of the Kruisberg. It's a very long
line with many gaps. The roads are still damp and muddy in places, but they're
Wesemann is in Eys and now he will find it hard going on
the 16% Eyserbosweg. He looks back - 20 seconds. The bunch has regrouped. Garzelli
Ivanov leads the bunch at a relaxed
tempo, but no-one will come around him. Garzelli sits next to the Russian champ,
with Kroon on his wheel.
16:14 CEST 234km/19km to go
Wesemann now has
30 seconds, and it's looking dangerous for the others. Alex Moos is up in front
for Phonak, and finally Kroon attacks. Ivanov marks him, as does Kroon. The
CSC rider stretches the peloton with a very long attack, then Bettini cruises
up and counters. Hard.
16:16 CEST 235km/18km to go
Boogerd marks Bettini,
as does Ivanov, Ballan, Schleck, Kroon, Moerenhout and several more. Maybe 10
riders chasing Wesemann, who has lost 10 seconds of his lead.
was there, but has a mechanical. He's caught by Wegmann, Rebellin and Sinkewitz,
and they catch the chase group.
16:18 CEST 236km/17km to go
Bettini drives the
chase group hard behind Wesemann. Riders: Bettini (QS), Boogerd (Rabobank),
Ivanov and Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Ballan (Lampre), Schleck, Kroon (CSC), Moerenhout
(Phonak), Leukemans (Davitamon), Wegmann, Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Sanchez (Euskaltel).
Wese has 13 seconds as he reaches the Fromberg.
Wegmann, Ivanov and Leukemans get
a gap on the Fromberg and Ivanov actually does a turn as T-Mobile could end
up with two out of four in front.
16:21 CEST 237km/16km to go
The chasing group
grows as Chavanel joins and then punctures immediately. Race over.
Bettini bursts out of the group like a rocket, and gets a gap. Four riders in
front of him.
16:22 CEST 238km/15km to go
Paolo Bettini is
powering across to Wesemann alone. A correction: Ivanov and co are caught by
the bunch, but Ivanov is attacking again with Schleck.
16:23 CEST 239km/14km to go
Wesemann sits up
a little and Bettini closes in. Behind, it's Wegmann, Ivanov and Schleck chasing.
Wesemann is caught by Bettini.
16:25 CEST 240km/13km to go
Paolo Bettini takes
the lead in front with the next three riders at 10 seconds. No sign of Boogerd
yet. Ivanov doesn't have to work in the chase group. Neither does Wese in front.
Good tactics from T-Mobile.
Schleck does a big turn as Bettini
and Wese hit the Kuitenberg. This is going to hurt a lot, as it's over 20 percent
at its steepest. Bettini piles on the pressure, but can he crack Wesemann?
16:26 CEST 241km/12km to go
Bettini looks back
and sees Ivanov's group coming. Then the bunch is close behind. Regrouping before
The bunch is very small at the top,
with Bettini leading over. Wesemann, Schleck, Ivanov, Boogerd are all there.
16:28 CEST 242km/11km to go
Rebellin is also
with the lead group, as is Kroon and Sinkewitz. And Sanchez and a Phonak rider.
16:30 CEST 243km/10km to go
The lead group has
many T-Mobile riders: Steffen Wesemann, Ivanov, Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Bettini
(QS), Schleck (CSC), Boogerd (Rabobank), ? (Phonak), Kroon (CSC), Sanchez (Euskaltel),
Freire, Valverde and Thomas Dekker are in
the first chase group.
Schleck attacks with Sinkewitz trying to chase,
but exploding. Or waiting.
16:31 CEST 244km/9km to go
Schleck powers along
and gets a little gap. Nice riding, and it will help his team leader Kroon.
Ivanov chases, with Kroon marking him. Bettini does a lot of work too.
16:32 CEST 245km/8km to go
Schleck is leading the race by 10 seconds as he battles the wind. One more climb
to come: the Cauberg.
16:33 CEST 246km/7km to go
Schleck puts it in
the biggest gear as Perdiguero (Phonak) tries to get the chasers working. 18
seconds!! Schleck is not home yet, but he looks good.
16:34 CEST 246km/7km to go
The T-Mobiles are
mounting a chase now with Wesemann and Sinkewitz. Kroon in third wheel yells
at the moto to get out of the way.
Frank Schleck is riding well,
smoothly and powerfully.
16:35 CEST 247km/6km to go
Kroon is in an excellent
situation too, as the others all must chase. Bettini does another big turn.
He is still a good chance of winning, but he'll have to get Schleck back. Boogerd
sits towards the back of the break. He's a little outgunned here.
16:36 CEST 248km/5km to go
Wesemann gets a gap
as Perdiguero lets the wheel go. Boogerd sprints up to the German, then Bettini.
They catch him, as do the rest of the chasers. But Schleck still has 15 seconds.
Now Wesemann has to bury himself.
16:37 CEST 248km/5km to go
Wesemann leads the
chase all the way as Frank Schleck reaches the flat in Sibbe, then gets another
downhill. 15 seconds is the advantage for the CSC rider.
16:38 CEST 249km/4km to go
The speed picks up
on the descent after Sibbe, and Frank Schleck is still then man. Now Ivanov
puts in a huge attack on the descent, but gets Bettini for company. This could
be fatal for Schleck. 12 seconds. Kroon is in third wheel.
16:39 CEST 250km/3km to go
Schleck hits 3 km
to go and looks back. He has about 12 seconds. He's in Valkenburg now, and is
nearing the Cauberg for the final time. Another roundabout...nearly there.
Ivanov eases up. That could be enough
for Schleck. Now Wesemann attacks!
16:41 CEST 251.5km/1.5km to go
They're all saving
themselves for the Cauberg, and now T-Mobile doesn't have to chase with Wese
in second on the road.
Schleck is nearly at the final kilometre.
16:41 CEST 252km/1km to go
20 seconds for Schleck
at the foot of the Cauberg. Can he hold on? He goes under the kilometre to go
Schleck grits his teeth as he hurts
at the bottom of the climb. The bunch is too far, surely. Can Wesemann do it
Frank Schleck gets out of the saddle
and gets to 300m to go. He's got it!
16:43 CEST 253km/0km to go
Frank Schleck sprints
to the line and wins the Amstel Gold Race!!!! Fantastic effort by the Luxembourger!!
Wesemann will take second after a very good ride.
Michael Boogerd takes third - of
course he has to be on the podium in the Amstel Gold Race. Kroon follows him
in for fourth.
Well, there ya go. No Rabobank win,
no T-Mobile win, despite them controlling for much of the race. But CSC has
done it again with a great performance from Frank Schleck, who is a very emotional
and deserving winner of the Amstel Gold Race. Fine performance by Wesemann for
second place, and the ever consistent Boogerd shook his head as he crossed the
line for third, throwing his hands up as if to say "what could I do?".
Until next time: The Tour de Georgia next week and La Fleche Wallonne/Liege
Bastogne-Liege. We'll be busy in the blimp.
1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
2 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) T-Mobile Team
3 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
4 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC
5 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile Team
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
7 Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak
8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic
9 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner
10 Sergey Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile