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Dr Michele Ferrari
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Doctor's orders: The Dr Michele Ferrari Journal

Dr Michele Ferrari, coach to cycling greats including Moser, Bugno, Argentin and Rominger, in addition to five-time Tour de France winner and defending champion Lance Armstrong, has never been afraid to push the boundaries of sports science.

In 2004, cycling's most controversial sports doctor will once again provide Cyclingnews readers with his unique insight into the mindset of what makes or breaks a champion.

Amstel Gold - April 18, 2004

Rebellin's rollercoaster ride

On the Cauberg Davide Rebellin chose to sprint with a 41x15 (development of 5.76m) and was finally able to win a World Cup Classic. Boogerd, very generous as usual, probably dared too much, choosing to face the sprint with a 53x17 (6.57m).

In the first part of the sprint, where the ascent is steeper, Boogerd was pedaling at 73 RPM, while Rebellin was spinning at 84 RPM; in the final 150 metres, at a lower gradient, Rebellin took advantage of a higher cadence, being able to sprint at 110 RPM.

And, finally, today's Amstel Gold Race selected the best riders in the peloton: with its 31 climbs, despite being short ones, the total vertical gain is about 3600 m. Together with wind and the labyrinth of curves and narrow roads, they made the selection.

3600 metres of vertical gain cannot be compared to those of a mountain stage in the Alps or Pyrenees though: the short climbs of Amstel just 'lengthen' the group down the road, while longer ascents definitely 'break' the peloton.

Anyhow, after 200 kilometres of 'rollercoaster', only those riders with trained legs capable of bearing huge amounts of lactic acid in their muscles could follow through the effort after the short climb, thus making the difference.