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Photo ©: Bettini
39th Amstel Gold Race - CDM
Netherlands, April 18, 2004
Commentary by Jeff Jones and Chris Henry
Complete live report
Start time: 10:15 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:40 CEST
Welcome back for another Sunday of World Cup coverage. Today is the Amstel Gold
Race in the Netherlands, the youngest of the spring classics and the fourth round
of this year's World Cup. Last year the UCI swapped the position of Amstel Gold
and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest classic. Amstel's 31 short,
tough climbs resemble the Tour of Flanders more than L-B-L, making the new position
on the calendar a bit more logical. Another change made last year was moving the
finish from the streets of Maastricht to the top of the steep Cauberg climb, which
will be tackled a total of three times during the 250.7 kilometre parcours.
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
So who will succeed T-Mobile's Alexandre Vinokourov, king of the Cauberg a year
ago? The race has been dominated by the Dutch since the late 1970's, with Dutch
riders standing on top of the podium 17 times in 38 editions. But in the last
decade, the winners have come from several different nations, which is probably
a reflection of the Amstel Gold Race's growing importance on the cycling calendar.
Nonetheless, if the Tour of Flanders can be considered a world championship for
the Belgians, the same can certainly be said of Amstel Gold and the Dutch, particularly
the nation's top team, Rabobank.
The only two Dutch winners in the last 12 years have been Rabobank's Erik Dekker
and Michael Boogerd, who are both favourites to win in 2004. Boogerd has been
on the podium four times since 1999, and is thus always a contender in the Amstel
Rabobank's Michael Boogerd
The race is off, on time, with 184 starters for the 251km trek. The weather from
the start finds the race starting under some sun (and some clouds), with a temperature
around 11-12 degrees and a strong wind from the south. While the wind can certainly
play a role in the race when the riders find themselves in the open fields between
climbs, the route itself is so circuitous that there will never be one prevailing
headwind or tailwind.
Photo ©: Elmar Krings
One rider not on the start is Team CSC's Jörg Jaksche, winner of the Tour
Med and Paris-Nice this spring, who regrettably had a run-in with a Quick.Step
rider after a training ride before the race and broke his arm. We've checked
with the team and there is no replacement for Jaksche in today's race. He was
expecting to do well, if not with a big result today, certainly in with a chance
in the upcoming Ardennes classics.
"It's incredibly unlucky, because I was looking forward to riding in the classics
very much and the Tour de Romandie is a race which would have been perfectly
suited for me," Jaksche explained after the accident yesterday. "I have trained
hard with these particular races in mind, and I'm very disappointed to have
to withdraw from them."
Jaksche may be out of the race, but CSC will still count on Michele Bartoli,
who is back in action after his first taste of Paris-Roubaix last weekend. Bartoli
was up with the leaders for much of Roubaix until a puncture knocked him out
of contention. Two years ago he won Amstel Gold while riding for Fassa Bortolo,
and having won at Flèche Wallonne and twice in Liège, he's always
been a man for the Ardennes classics.
There was no Flanders-Roubaix double (or even a single) for Peter Van Petegem
(Lotto-Domo) this year, although few would deny that he is in good shape. Van
Petegem hasn't finished on the podium in the Amstel, but if his mind and legs
are set on it, he could be there this time. He raced well on the Cauberg and
around Valkenberg to claim a silver medal at the 1998 world championships, so
erhaps he'll find some inspiration again this weekend. Teammate Leon van Bon
is also in good form, and should not be counted out.
Frank Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo)
After punctures at inopportune moments cost Franco Vandenbroucke (Fassa Bortolo)
any chance of a result in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the blond Belgian
will try and redeem things in the Amstel Gold Race. It's difficult to assess VDB's
form, but perhaps this time the cards will fall his way. His teammates Fabian
Cancellara and Juan Antonio Flecha have been riding well too of late.
Photo ©: CN
Paolo Bettini will lead the Quick.Step-Davitamon charge, along with Australian
Michael Rogers, Luca Paolini, and Pedro Horrillo. Bettini took a short break from
competition after the Tour of Flanders but is back and ready for the Ardennes
classics, particularly Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which he was won twice
Other riders to consider in the Amstel equation include Laurent Brochard (Ag2r),
Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Oscar Camenzind (Phonak) and Franco Pellizotti
(Alessio-Bianchi). US Postal service is without a big leader since Lance Armstrong
and George Hincapie are both back in the USA getting ready for the Tour of Georgia.
Perhaps Floyd Landis could cause a surprise for USPS if he has a good day and
good team support, as he's been showing good form all spring.
How many fans remember Erik Dekker's Amstel win in 2001? The Dutchman responded
to a solo attack by Lance Armstrong and the two rode the finale together. Rabobank
directeur sportif Theo De Rooij appeared visibly nervous about Dekker's chances,
telling him to just sit on Armstrong's wheel since Boogerd was in a chase group
behind. Dekker fancied his chances, however, and continued to set the pace with
Armstrong (and argue with De Rooij) until they arrived in Maastricht for a two-up
sprint. Already beaten in by Boogerd in 1999, Armstrong was forced to settle
for second once more as Dekker took the day.
He's back this year and considers himself a favourite, so be sure to check out
our pre-race interview
with Erik Dekker.
11:53 CEST 63km/188km to go
At long last, here's a glimpse of what's going on in the early stages of the
race. The first breakaway of note includes just two men: Johan Van Summeren
(Relax-Bodysol) and Jan Kuyckx (Vlaanderen-T Interim). These two have 3'05 on
the main field, and are being chased by Alain Van Katwijk (Bankgiroloterij)
and Peter Wuyts (Mr. Bookmaker-Palmans), who are 1'05 behind the leaders.
Pre-race favourite Erik Dekker (Rabobank) tried to stretch his legs in an early
escape this morning, but needless to say it was brought back quickly enough.
Niels Scheuneman (Relax-Bodysol) is unfortunately out of the race after a crash.
The two leaders (note: it is indeed Jan Kuyckx of Vlaanderen T-Interim in the
break, not Jans Koerts) have extended their lead to nearly five minutes. The
two chasers have not been able to bridge the gap.
Michael Rogers (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Cyclingnews spoke with Michael Rogers (Quick.Step-Davitamon) before the
start this morning to see what the big Aussie had in mind for today's race.
Photo ©: CN
"Bettini's obviously our captain, no real secrets," Rogers said. "I'm starting
to come up alright now. I was alright in Pais Vasco towards the end. I suffered
a bit at the start but then I was ok. I'll see how it goes today."
As for Rogers' plans for the rest of the season, he says "pretty much Luxembourg,
the Tour and obviously the [Olumpic] Games, so I've got quite a big schedule coming
12:37 CEST 80km/171km to go
Early leaders Johan Van Summeren (Relax-Bodysol) and Jan Kuyckx (Vlaanderen)
have opened up a nice gap on the main field, but after crossing the seven minute
mark the advantage actually came down a bit. Wuyts continues to chase, but he's
losing ground, as is Van Katwijk, trapped in no-man's land.
This is not a particularly dangerous break, but regardless the main field won't
likely let the two leaders get too far ahead. The big teams- Rabobank, Quick.Step,
T-Mobile, and Lotto-Domo- will have little trouble reeling them in once the
chase gets serious.
13:01 CEST 98km/153km to go
Van Summeren and Kuyckx
Local team Rabobank is leading peloton in pursuit of the two leaders, who have
extended their lead again. The gap is up to 8'00, while Peter Wuyts (who continues
to chase the lead duo) has extended his own gap to 3'00 over the field. Van Katwijk
has dropped off the radar for the moment.
Photo ©: CN
13:13 CEST 107km/144km to go
Kuyckx and Van Summeren now have a 5'30 lead on Wuyts and Van Katwijk, who have
rediscovered each other out on the road. The two leaders' advantage over the
main field is still going up as Rabobank rides at the front to keep it in check.
Last time gap: nine minutes.
The weather is still dry, but cloudy and windy. The temperature should get up
to around 13-14 degrees but it'll feel cooler in the trees and with the wind.
Tomas Lovkvist (FDJeux.com)
We had a question earlier in the day about young Swedish sensation Thomas Lövkvist
(FDJeux.com) and his chances today at Amstel. Lövkvist had a great run last
week, winning the Circuit de la Sarthe (final stage and overall) and placing second
in the prestigious Paris-Camembert classic. No doubt he's an emerging talent,
but 250km in a tough World Cup race are another matter. We'll be keeping an eye
Photo ©: CN
As for his FDJeux.com team, Australian Brad McGee is a leader for the day. McGee
had hoped this spring to make the World Cup races, and Amstel in particular, a
more serious goal than in years past. Unfortunately he was sidelined by a knee
innjury and hasn't had ideal preparation. McGee rode well on the track last weekend
in Manchester at the Track World Cup, and was in the leading break at the GP Denain
until he was hit by a serious leg cramp which took him out of contention.
13:47 CEST 122km/129km to go
The two leaders, Johan Van Summeren (Relax-Bodysol) and Jan Kuyckx (Vlaanderen),
are putting more time into the chasers while basically holding steady relative
to the main field. They have a healthy advantage of around nine minutes, but
the race is not even half over and the tough stuff is still to come.
14:14 CEST 135km/116km to go
The stiff breeze blowing has kept the race behind schedule thus far. The two
leaders are carrying on with their effort, but the chasers Wuyts and Van Katwijk
have surrendered to the peloton. Kuyckx and Van Summeren have just over eight
minutes over the field, still led by Rabobank and slowly beginning to pull back
time. The climb of the Eperheide is next on the menu.
The recently retired Johan Museeuw, winner of the Amstel Gold Race in 1994,
commented to Dutch television that the most difficult part of the Amstel Gold
Race is the "constant twisting and turning and narrow roads. You have to concentrate
and make sure you sit up the front, especially on a day like today with the
Museeuw rode his last professional race Wednesday at the Scheldeprijs in Belgium.
Today he is back with his Quick.Step team but in civilian clothes, alongside
friend and directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters.
Rabobank continues to assume its responsibility as the top team for Amstel,
leading a steady chase of the two leaders (Van Summeren and Kuyckx. The two
leaders are seeing their lead steadily chipped away as the advantage is now
down to just over seven minutes.
Gerolsteiner's Beat Zberg is out of the race, taken to the hospital with head
and knee injuries. He was involved in the same crash early on at kilometre 28
with Scheuneman, who also was forced to abandon.
14:38 CEST 155km/96km to go
Maarten den Bakker
Rabobank is continuing to make life difficult at the front of the big bunch, with
riders like Roger Hammond (Mr Bookmaker) suffering down the back as the peloton
is in one long line. Doing the damage in front are Maarten den Bakker and Steven
de Jongh. The gap is still 6'55 to the two leaders.
Photo ©: CN
Alessandro Cortinovis (Lampre) punctures. Riders are gradually being spit out
the back of the peloton, and Hammond is fighting hard to stay in contact. He's
still there though. Six Rabobanks in front.
14:43 CEST 159km/92km to go
Boogerd and Dekker have a team chat near the front of the peloton, as they hammer
along at 55 km/h. Frank Vandenbroucke is also well placed. Van Petegem is towards
the back with Leif Hoste, but doing it easy. The two leaders, Kuyckx and Van
Summeren, who attacked after 15 km, are suffering now.
Other crashes today have involved Beat's brother Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner)
and his teammate Ronny Scholz.
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com) has abandoned.
14:45 CEST 170km/81km to go
The two leaders are now on the Cauberg for the second last time, with Kuyckx
leading Van Summeren on the steep climb.
Marc Wauters (Rabobank)
As the two leaders tackle the Cauberg, Rabobank also lets Paolo Bettini's Quick.Step
team join in the chase. Bettini is a definite contender for today's race, a true
'puncheur' who can make the difference on short but tough climbs.
Photo ©: CN
The gap to the two leaders is starting to fall quickly, down to around five minutes.
15:11 CEST 175km/76km to go
The Cauberg has definitely taken some wind out of the sails of Van Summeren
and Kuyckx as Quick.Step and Rabobank force the pace behind. At Berg en Terbilt
the gap is down to just over 4 minutes.
Behind in the main field Oscar Camenzind (Phonak) and Bart Voskamp (Chocolade
Jacques) have crashed, no word on how badly. The lead to the break is already
down to 3'30.
The next climb to come is the Geulhemmerweg, followed some 20km later by the
Bemelerberg. There are nine climbs left in the final 50km of racing.
Quick.Step's Michael Rogers has broken from the main field and is in a group
of five chasing the two leaders. He's joined by Rolf Aldag (T-Mobile), Aart
Vierhouten (Lotto-Domo), Karsten Kroon (Rabobank), and Jan Van Velzen (Chocolade
15:20 CEST 195km/56km to go
Van Summeren and Kuyckx are really starting to pay for their earlier efforts
now, fighting with all they have to hold their advantage to the chase group
of five, which is now 2'30. Van Summeren has now dropped Kuyckx.
In the chase group, Aldag, Rogers, Kroon, Van Velzen and Vierhouten are all
working well together. Except for Kroon, who doesn't want to come through.
15:24 CEST 197km/54km to go
Johan Van Summeren, who has been away since km 15, is now riding solo with five
men (Aldag, Rogers, Kroon, Van Velzen and Vierhouten in hot pursuit. Kuyckx
is somewhere in between them. The peloton is now being towed by Fassa Bortolo.
15:27 CEST 197km/54km to go
Kuyckx is caught and dropped by the chase group on the Bemmelerberg. Aldag and
Kroon accelerate on the climb, dropping Rogers and co. There are now three chasing
two chasing one.
Maarten den Bakker, who worked so much before, has been dropped from the bunch.
15:29 CEST 199km/52km to go
Fassa Bortolo are taking all the responsibility of the chase in the peloton,
with Frank Vandenbroucke their main man. Four Fassa riders are leading the pursuit
of the (now) three leaders. Vierhouten, Rogers and Van Velzen have been caught,
leaving Van Summeren alone in front, chased by Kroon and Aldag.
15:32 CEST 200km/51km to go
Van Summeren's long break comes to an unfortunate end, as he punctures and is
caught by Kroon and Aldag. Van Summeren has to wait for a wheel and will probably
be caught by the peloton. But he hasn't given up. 51 km to go.
15:34 CEST 202km/49km to go
Van Summeren is caught by the Fassa Bortolo led bunch, and now only Aldag and
Kroon are away, taking the pressure off their teams to chase.
Rabobank has lost Steven de Jongh as well.
15:38 CEST 205km/46km to go
Aldag and Kroon are swallowed by the bunch, and straight away Leon Van Bon attacks.
But the Lotto-Domo rider doesn't get too far, and Peers (Jacques) and Pozzato
(Fassa) take over in front. Their attempt is just as successful. The peloton
is all together with 45 km to go. But there are a lot of attacks.
15:42 CEST 210km/41km to go
As light rain drops start to fall on the very stretched out peloton, Leon van
Bon accelerates again, trying to break up this large bunch. Nothing doing at
There are many attacks...
15:47 CEST 212km/39km to go
Alexandre Kolobnev (Domina Vacanze) gets a gap and is caught and passed by Spanish
rider Pedro Horrillo (Quick.Step). Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) goes up to try
and join him.
It's Horrillo in the lead. Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) accelerates from the peloton
to join him. Then Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros), Nicki Sorensen (CSC),
Eddy Mazzoleni (Saeco), Jose Luis Rubiera (USPS), Fabian Cancellara (Fassa)
all join the party.
Sorensen (CSC) attacks solo. Horrillo in pursuit.
15:50 CEST 213km/38km to go
It's raining a little bit harder now as we enter the last 40 km of the Amstel
Gold Race. Vladimir Miholjevic (Alessio-Bianchi) attacks the peloton in pursuit
of Sorensen and Horrilo.
Wauters is the next Rabobank rider to be shelled from the peloton, which is
still in one long line.
15:52 CEST 215km/36km to go
On the descent of the Wolfsberg, the peloton comes back together with 36 km
left. There is a small group trying to extract itself from the peloton, without
15:55 CEST 218km/33km to go
Erik Dekker (Rabobank) is the next to attack, on the Loorberg (climb 25 of 31).
But he is heavily marked and Sergei Ivanov (T-Mobile) counters. No rider is
able to establish a clear gap at the moment.
Mark Scanlon (Ag2r) is a fair way back in the bunch next to Erik Zabel (T-Mobile).
In front of the bunch Bettini, Boogerd and Rebellin are prominent.
15:56 CEST 218km/33km to go
Van Goolen (Quick.Step), Lotz (Rabobank), Mazzoleni (Saeco) and attack from
the peloton at the top of the Loorberg in pursuit of Ivanov. They catch him
at the top. Four leaders, but the gap is small.
15:58 CEST 220km/31km to go
The four leaders are flying along towards the Gulperberg, chased by five riders
at 12 seconds.
16:02 CEST 221km/30km to go
Casar (FDJ), Popovych (Landbouwkrediet), Verheyen (Jacques), M. Zberg (Gerolsteiner)
make contact with the four leaders, and then more riders come across with Merckx
(Lotto), Kroon (Rabobank) and Vicioso (Liberty) among them. The gap to the peloton
is 15 seconds.
Popovych looks good as he leads into Gulpen, just taking the corners.
16:03 CEST 222km/29km to go
Popovych starts the steep Gulperbeg in the lead, and straight away starts to
feel the 11 percent grad. He is caught and passed by Verheyen (Jacques)
16:05 CEST 223km/28km to go
Verheyen is now leading, with a group of 15 chasers including Popovych, Merckx,
Ivanov... Verheyen waits for them. It's too early to go solo.
On the descent, the peloton is more or less back together. Still in one looooong
16:08 CEST 225km/26km to go
The bunch is down to about 50 riders now as we hit the finale. Boogerd is well
protected near the front of the bunch, close to Van Petegem and Van Bon. VDB
is also prominent. Lots of attacks, but nothing lasts for more than a few minutes.
16:10 CEST 228km/23km to go
Lotto and Rabobank are hammering on the front of the peloton, lifting the speed
for their team leaders. Van Petegem is still there and could well have the legs
for a winning attack. They're in Wahlwiller now, with 23 km to go. The Kruisberg
is the next climb.
16:13 CEST 229km/22km to go
VDB, Van Petegem, Boogerd, Van Bon and Bettini are the front wall of riders
on the Kruisberg, the fifth last climb. But they're not hammering, just looking
at each other...the test will come on the next climb. It looks like Van Bon
is paying for his earlier efforts and is going backwards. Yep, he's out.
Dekker attacks, and the excellent Mazzoleni goes with him. The bunch chases
hard and doesn't let them go.
16:15 CEST 231km/20km to go
Landis attacks on the Eyserbosweg! The USPS rider gets a small gap to the Dekker
led peloton. There's a lot of damage done. Zabel is still hangin' in there.
Kessler (T-Mobile) counters and catches Landis.
16:17 CEST 231km/20km to go
The pace is really damaging on the Eyserbosweg, and plenty of riders are going
out the back. Bettini has set off in pursuit of Kessler, and he catches him
at the top. Landis isn't there any more.
At the top it's Bettini, Kessler, Di Luca, Van Petegem, Rebellin and Boogerd.
That's a good group!
16:19 CEST 233km/18km to go
The six leaders get together and start working. They fly on the descent of the
Eyserbosweg. Three climbs to go. The next group has Dekker and Zabel in it,
chasing at 10 seconds.
16:21 CEST 234km/17km to go
Bettini does a big turn and opens up gaps. Rebellin comes with him. Bettini
wonders where everyone is. He waits for Rebellin and they hit the Fromberg.
The other four gradually close the gap. This is a nice group. The second group
is very close with Brochard, Camenzind, Landis...
At the top of the climb, Rebellin and Boogerd have a small gap to Van Petegem,
Di Luca, Kessler and Bettini.
16:23 CEST 237km/14km to go
Brochard, Zabel, Camenzind and co. are working hard to catch the six men in
front. It's still Boogerd and Rebellin in the lead on the desent of the Fromberg.
Two more climbs to come. Four chasers still: Van Petegm, Di Luca, Bettini and
16:25 CEST 237km/14km to go
Bettini misses a corner and has to go cross country for a bit, but he doesn't
crash. His group trails Boogerd and Rebellin by 11 seconds as they approach
the penultimate climb, the Keutenberg.
16:27 CEST 238km/13km to go
Boogerd and Rebellin commit themselves utterly to staying away, and they cooperate
well. The four chasers are also working, and will try to close on the Keutenberg.
Not sure where group three is - 20 seconds. Dekker has attacked from it.
Rebellin leads on the 22 percent Keutenberg, but Boogerd comes around and hammers
out of the saddle.
Di Luca attacks the chase group in pursuit of the two leaders. Kessler, Bettini
and Van Petegem watch him...
At the top of the climb, Boogerd leads Rebellin. Di Luca at a good 15 seconds.
Then PVP, Kessler and Bettini at 20 seconds.
16:29 CEST 240km/11km to go
the next group comes over in bits. It's between the front six riders now it
Boogerd and Rebellin are on the false flat on top of the Keutenberg, with Di
Luca chasing at 15 seconds. Then PVP, Kessler and Bettini at 20 seconds.
16:31 CEST 241km/10km to go
Di Luca is caught by PVP and co, and there are now four chasing two. Behind
them, Dekker, Wesemann and one other are chasing.
16:32 CEST 242km/9km to go
9 km to go and Boogerd and Rebellin have 32 seconds on the next group with PVP.
They're riding away. This could be Boogerd's second Amstel win, but don't count
out Rebellin who looks very strong.
It's still raining a little, but not enough to make things dangerous.
16:34 CEST 244km/7km to go
Boogerd does a big turn with Rebellin tucked in behind him. There can be no
relaxing now, this close to the finish.
Bartoli is trying to stir up the third group, with Wesemann, Camenzind, Landis,
Dekker (who keeps attacking to break their rhythm). Good tactics from Dekker.
16:36 CEST 245km/6km to go
The two leaders are in Sibbe now and have 6 km to go. It's got to be one of
these two. The next four are still 30 seconds back. Erik Dekker is alone in
pursuit of Van Petegem/Bettini/Kessler/Di Luca. He is 45 seconds from the front
of the race.
16:37 CEST 247km/4km to go
Bettini's group is still working well, with 27 seconds disadvantage to the two
chasers. It's not over yet but Boogerd and Rebellin should be committed to the
finish. 4km to go. The gap is slowly closing.
16:39 CEST 248km/3km to go
The tow leaders take the tricky descent in Sibbe, with four km to go. Behind
them, the four man chase group is powering along. The Rabobank car flies past
them. The gap is 38 seconds. Enough.
16:40 CEST 248km/3km to go
Kessler has attacked the chase group and is trying to take third position. 3km
to go for Boogerd and Rebellin in the lead.
16:41 CEST 249km/2km to go
Rebellin and Boogerd continue working with 2 km to go. Boogerd has been doing
most of the work. They are in Valkenburg.
Kessler is caught by Van Petegem, Bettini and Di Luca. Dekker is still chasing
them alone in 7th position.
16:42 CEST 250km/1km to go
Last kilometres and Boogerd and Rebellin are side by side, checking behind them
for the chasers. Rebellin takes the lead at the foot of the Cauberg, with an
enormous crowd cheering him on.
The four chasers are at 34 seconds.
16:43 CEST 251km/0km to go
Rebellin slows, with Boogerd on his wheel, they can't afford too much of this.
The roads are a little wet now.
Boogerd keeps looking back, checking for the chasers, who are also looking at
each other. Rebellin leads all the way, and nearly stops. 450 m to go
16:45 CEST 251km/0km to go
The two leaders lose a lot of their advantage. Boogerd attacks with everything
with 350m to go, Rebellin takes his wheel. They sprint full on for the finish,
and Boogerd gives it everything. Rebellin comes around with 50m to go to take
the win! Smart riding from the Italian
Bettini takes third in front of Di Luca and Van Petegem. Kessler is sixth. Dekker
comes across alone for seventh.
Boogerd went way too early - the four chasers were not that close. He paid for
it with another second place.
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 0.17
4 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco
5 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo
6 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team
7 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 0.40
the commentary team Results