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42nd Amstel Gold Race Preview
 
By Staff
Date: 4/21/2007
42nd Amstel Gold Race Preview
 

42nd Amstel Gold Race Preview
The 2007 Ardenne Classics are set to begin with an all star lineup in Maastricht tomorrow morning.

By: Andrew Kappes

 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 of Liquigas

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 squad.


Can Boogerd come out on top in his final Amstel Gold Race? photo c. Bart Hazen

 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 www.cycling.tv. Support the Daily Peloton by buying your subscription at this link by clicking on the buy now button.
 

 
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