42nd Amstel Gold Race Preview
By: Andrew Kappes
The 2007 Ardenne Classics are set to begin with an all star lineup in
Maastricht tomorrow morning.
A star-studded field of riders will
depart from Maastricht, Netherlands on Sunday morning. Five of the past
eight winners are on the start list for the 42nd edition of
Holland’s greatest race. This includes Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, who will
wear the number one for CSC.
CSC continues to load the talent pool, along with defending champ Schleck
they brought a slew of talented riders that are contenders themselves. Jens
Voigt and Frank’s little brother Andy will also be wearing the red, black,
and white of CSC. Lars Bak, Karsten Kroon, and Volodymir Gustov will provide
a strong support group for the main riders on the team.
Schleck in disbelief as he crosses the Amstel Gold finish line in first last
year. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
The numerous climbs on this year’s course is
set to fit Quickstep’s Paolo Bettini. The world champion hasn’t won a
classic yet this year, but this Sunday could prove to be the icebreaker. The
hilly course could also suit Caisse D’Epargne’s Alejandro Valverde. They
bring the deepest team to Amstel Gold; accompanying Valverde will be
classics specialist Luis Leon Sanchez, Francisco Perez-Sanchez, David
Lopez-Garcia, and Jose Rojas-Gil. It’s a safe bet Caisse D’Epargne will at
least get a podium place.
Valverde is looking to get into the winning form that won him the Pro Tour
crown last year. Photo © Unipublic S.A.U.
Classics specialists Samuel Sanchez and
David Etxebarria will lead Euskaltel-Euskadi. Their Spanish counterparts
Saunier Duval-Prodir bring young Italian sensation Riccardo Ricco.
Supporting Ricco, who could be a dark horse for a podium place; David
de la Fuente, Juan Jose Cobo, Manuele Mori, among others.
Laurent Brochard and Thomas Voeckler will
lead the French team Bouygues Telecom into Amstel Gold. Jerome Pineau and
Anthony Geslin round out a deep Bouygues squad. Sylvain Chavanel and
Boonen-Bettini pupil Nick Nuyens will lead Cofidis.
FranÇaise des Jeux will bring Thierry Marichal, Carlos Dacruz, and
Francis Mourey among others.
Nuyens is still trying to get out of the Boonen-Bettini Quickstep shadow.
Photo c. Bart Hazen
Gerolsteiner could prove to be a sleeping
giant in this year’s edition. Davide Rebellin will suit up for the team, he
won the race back in 2004. ENECO Tour champ Stefan Schumacher, Fabian
Wegmann, and Peter Wrolich will ride along side Rebellin who has shown good
form so far this season.
T-Mobile is steaming this month, the team is still
steaming over a Ghent - Wevelgem surprise a few weeks ago. The winner of Ghent
–Wevelgem, Marcus Burghardt, will ride for magenta squad. Joining him
will be Michael Rogers, Kim Kirchen, Patrik Sinkewitz, and Michael Barry.
2005 champ Danilo Diluca has confirmed he will be riding
for the green of Liguigas. Supporting him will be Luca Paolini, Michael
Albasini, and Eros Capecchi. Milram brings 2000 champ Erik Zabel. Bjorn
Schroder could be the surprise for the Milram team.
Danilo Di Luca’s teammates will be in full force trying to get him another
Amstel Gold. Courtesy
Many cycling fans were
saddened by the announcement by Michael Boogerd that he is retiring. The
good news for Boogerd’s many fans, he is in the lineup for Rabobank at the
Amstel Gold race, an event he won back in 1999 and makes a habit of being on
the podium if he doesn't win. Juan Antonio Flecha is
coming off a podium place at Paris-Roubaix, and is a strong favorite for
Sunday’s race. Thomas Dekker will also be riding for Holland’s own Rabobank
Can Boogerd come out on top in his final Amstel Gold Race?
Some other contenders that could find their
way on the podium Sunday are Discovery’s Yarloslav Popovych, Stijn Devolder,
and Wiesenhof-Felt’s Steffen Wesemann. The hilly course favors a breakaway,
and climbers stand a real good chance. Schleck seems poised to do well again
at this year’s race, but this course appears it’s been made for the
struggling Paolo Bettini.
All questions will be answered Sunday, you can
watch the 42nd Amstel Gold Race on
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