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40th Amstel Gold Race - PT

Netherlands, April 17, 2005

Rebellin back for another crack at gold

By Jeff Jones

Davide Rebellin wins
Photo ©: Sirotti

The 40th Amstel Gold Race will be the fifth race of the seven ProTour spring classics, and takes place on Sunday, April 17. It's the only Dutch major classic, and will be run over the usual parcours through the Limburg hills in the south of Holland, starting from Maastricht and finishing atop the Cauberg in Valkenburg. The 251 km route lacks cobbles, but is challenging enough with the inclusion of 31 short, steep climbs.

Last year's winner was Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), who went onto achieve a remarkable triple by winning both La Flche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the following week, becoming the first rider to win these three classics in the same year. This year, Rebellin is also targeting these races, and is nearing the top of his condition after finishing second, just three seconds behind Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi), in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco last week. Di Luca can also be counted among the favourites for Sunday, as he finished fourth last year and third in 2003, and is set to go a couple of steps higher on the podium.

Last year's runner up in both Amstel and Liege was Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), who has an impressive record in this race: one victory (1999), three second places, and one third. He has had a quiet build up to the race this year, hampered by sickness, but should be ready for the Battle on the Cauberg on Sunday. Rabobank also has Erik and Thomas Dekker, as well as Oscar Freire in its lineup, and looks to be one of the strongest teams on paper.

After his solid second place last Sunday in Roubaix, George Hincapie is the leader of the Discovery Channel team for Amstel. Team director Johan Bruyneel commented that Hincapie has "never done very well in the few times he has taken part in the race because it used to be the last race of the spring. Now, I think he's fresher at this stage as he was out for a longer time with his illness. I think he can do a good race. He's in good shape, both mentally and physically."

Serge Baguet, Leon Van Bon, and Axel Merckx will be the riders to watch for Davitamon-Lotto. Baguet has recovered from a crash in Pais Vasco, and will hope to find his early season winning legs again. Van Bon had the misfortune to puncture out of the lead group in Paris-Roubaix last Sunday, but showed that he had excellent form by still finishing sixth.

The Quick.Step challenge will be led by Paolo Bettini, with Filippo Pozzato, Rik Verbrugghe, and Marc Lotz also part of the blue/white squad. The CSC team will again include the in-form young Russian Vladimir Gussev, with Jens Voigt and Kurt-Asle Arvesen as alternative leaders. Liberty Seguros seems to be the most successful of the Spanish teams in the classics, and will feature the attacking Carlos Barredo, as well as Jrg Jaksche and Angel Vicioso.

Bouygues Telecom hasn't done a great deal in the classics so far, and will be relying on the experience of Laurent Brochard and the enthusiasm of Thomas Voeckler, who has given it everything in the previous races. Cofidis will again be led by Stuart O'Grady, who has had consistent but not brilliant results in the classics.

Finally, Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) and Igor Astarloa (Barloworld-Valsir) are outside chances for the victory on Sunday, but they have proven in the past that they have the qualities to win a race like this.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 40th Amstel Gold Race live from start to finish. Coverage starts at 10:15 CEST (Europe)/4:15 EDT (USA East)/1:15 PDT (USA West)/18:15 AEST (Australia East).