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43rd Amstel Gold
By Staff
Date: 4/20/2008
43rd Amstel Gold

43rd Amstel Gold -
Lampre's Damiano Cunego takes a brilliant and tough victory on the Cauberg.

 43rd Amstel Gold
Maastricht - Cauberg 257.4 km
Lampre's Damiano Cunego took a brilliant victory on the Cauberg today coming around a spent Frank Schleck of CSC in the final 25 meters for a decisive win of several bike lengths. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) came off Davide Rebellin's wheel to take the final podium step with the Italian veteran taking fourth with Rabobank's Thomas Dekker fifth.

The first five finishers were part of an group who made the final selection of nine riders who made the split from a group of about 30 riders by an attack by Astana's Sergey Ivanov with about 16 km to go.

22 year old Albert Timmer (Skil/Shimano), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R La Mondiale) and Kristof Vandewalle of Topsport/Vlaanderen were the early breakmates leaving the peloton after 33 kilometers into the 257.4 km race the trio worked well together to gain near 13 minutes on an unconcerned peloton that started to put the heat on with 100 km to go.

Kristof Vandewalle, follows Yuri Krivtsov Ag2r and Albert Timmer of Skill/Shimano... Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

Did I say heat? Well it was more of a slow boil as the Rabobank, Lampre, and Gerolsteiner, worked together sending riders to the front to pick up the pace. Michael Barry of High Road took some long pulls on the front stretching his legs and stretching out the peloton as well, and inadvertently getting a gap on a peloton pretty much unwilling to put out too much effort, too early.

As the trio passed through Valkenberg with  76 km to go the gap was down to 6:20 with the three continuing to work well together and looking no worse for the wear for the some 170 km they had been on the attack. Lampre, Caiss d'Epargne and Liquigas threw a riders to the front to stamp out the quickening pace.

With 59 km to the finish the CSC's Gustav Larsson drove the pace with Gerolsteiner in attendance as the gap closed down to 3:30... Larsson must have heard the whip as he stretched out the peloton behind him as he snapped the speed up another notch closing the gap to 2:10 Next to test his legs was Milram's Niki Terpstra who made the jump in Norbeek and joined the three castaways at the front on the Wolfsberg with 43 km to go. This brought the bunch into action as Gerolsteiner and Rabo joined the chase.

Terpstra whipped Vandewalle, Krivstov and Timmer on the climb; but the chase was on and the gap fell to 17 seconds as the quartet fell into view of the chase. The four lasted a few more km, but by 35 km to go the break was absorbed.

Rabobanks Robert Gesink led the first attack, with first Mario Aerts (Silence/Lotto) catching on as Astarloa (Milram) followed suit as the three put a hundred meters into the pack. Phillipe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) and High Roads Kim Kirchen followed and bridged to the group. This group got the peloton's attention a hard chase had the four back as Andy Schleck went to the front and hammered the pace hard discouraging attacks as CSC organized for the final 31 kilometers. A mid pack crash as the riders started the Gulperberg took out Bouygues Telecom leader Xavier Florencio who rose to his feet rubbing his lower back in pain.

Five climbs and 28 km to go. Lampre, Rabo, led the climb up the Gulperberg as CSC's Arveson jumped to the front and then Gesink whipped the lads at the front stretching the riders in a long line behind him. Barloworld's Carlo Scognamiglio attacked on the Kruisberg getting a gap of 100 meters  as Quickstep and Lampre responded reeling in the Italian. Next to fly off the front was Liquigas rider Dario Cataldo who lasted a little less time than his compatriot in the wind.

23 km to the finish and Rabobank's Flecha was feeling the pain and pedaling off the back, he wasn't the only one at this point as the natural attrition of over 200km raced and higher speeds made spit riders off the back.

High Roads Kim Kirchen now dragged the peloton gapping the leaders as Dekker and Schleck wasted no time joining him with 21 km left, the three had no luck. But Kirchen attacked again with 18 km to go and Vansummeren fought to get his wheel as he rode away up the Eyersbog. The two went over the summit as David Rebellin led the chase immediately gapping the peloton who doubled there efforts, the result was the peloton split on the climb with a lead group of about 30 chasing Vansummeren and Kirchen; where they were caught on the descent with 16 km to go.

The aqua and gold jersey of Astana's Serguei Ivanov was the next to go off the front... and go he did like he was being chased by timber wolves... Christian Pfannberger (Barloworld) fought to gain Ivanov's wheel pm the Fromberg he looked to be struggling as he came alongside the Russian but then attacked gapping him near the summit. Behind the chase was led by Zabel, Ballan with the other favorites on their heels. 30 went over the top with another group of 25 on their heels determined to catch back on during the descent.

Ivanov and Pfannberger 16 second gap was closed with 13 km to go by the lead group on the descent as Caisse d'Epargne duo Joachim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde, Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), CSC duo Karsten Kroon and Fränk Schleck, Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) joined Ivanov and Pfannberger in a lead group of nine the two groups come within a 100 meters of  joining on the descent. The 40 or so riders were stretched and single file and flat out.

12 km to go, they start the penultimate climb of the Keutenberg as the riders struggle with the 22% grade near the top. The gap grows as riders legs refuse to obey... Ballan crosses the top 42 seconds down looking tortured and wasted. It is a minute from the break to the end of the chase group.

10 km to go, Schleck attacks, Rebellin joins as Valverde, Kroon, and Dekker follow. Rebellin gaps the others as Ivanov struggles to rejoin. The nine race on as Robert Gesink with Freire on his wheel drives the chase working to bring his captain to the front. Dekker sits on.

Behind the chase is led Rabolad's Gesink and Freire, High Road's Kirchen, Silence/Lottos Vansummeren, Gerolsteinger duo Fabian Wegmann and last years winner - Stefan Schumacher,kRinaldo Nocentini (AG2R), Jérôme Pineau (Bouygues), Simon Gerrans (Crédit Agricole), Benoît Vaugrenard of Francaise des Jeux, and Kjell Carlström (Liquigas).

6 km to go, the nine had a gap of 15 seconds on the chase as Spanish Champion Rodriguez continued to  hammer the pace on Valverde's behalf. On the climb of the Cauberg the group splits again with Rodriguez, Schleck, Cunego, Rebellin and Dekker gapping their rivals.

Under the flamme rouge of 1 km to go Rodriguez pulls off having given everything he could for Valverde. Rebellin takes the point, with Schleck, Ivanov, Valverde and Cunego on his wheel. Dekker falters and fights back as does Pfannberger and Ivanov. Schleck takes the lead and has a bike length on Cunego, Rebellin next with Valverde on his wheel.  The four riders almost take the official car chute and correct at the last minute Valverde slows as Rebellin comes back on the course. 30 meters to go and Cunego accelerates around Schleck to the right. Valverde comes around Rebellin but his legs have nothing as he slow motion pedals around the Gerolsteiner rider.

Cunego side by side with Frank Schleck gains ground and picks up speed as Schleck tries to command his legs to catch him... the orders are issued and only silence returns! Cunego takes the win by two bike lengths as he distances himself from the CSC rider. Franke doesn't make a secret of his disappointment as he finishes... Valverde finishes third two seconds down with Rebellin doing his final Amstel Gold in tow for 4th place.  What a Finish!! Thomas Dekker in for 5th.

43rd Amstel Gold Race
2008 Results
257.4 km - 6:35:29 - 39.051
Rank No UCI Code SURNAME, Name Team Time/Gap
1 164 Ita19810919 Cunego, Damiano Lam 6:35:29
2 146 Lux19800415 Schleck, Frank Csc
3 48 Esp19800425 Valverde Belmonte,Alejandro Gce +0:02

4 5 Ita19710809 Rebellin, Davide Gst
5 111 Ned19840906 Dekker, Thomas Rab +0:06
6 186 Aut19791209 Pfannberger, Christianbar +0:14
7 24 Rus19750305 Ivanov, Serguei Ast +0:18
8 45 Esp19790512 Rodriguez Oliver,Joaquin Gce +0:23
9 142 Ned19760129 Kroon, Karsten Csc +0:27

10 35 Fra19800102 Pineau, Jerome Btl +0:45
11 6 Ger19800620 Wegmann, Fabian Gst
12 63 Aus19800516 Gerrans, Simon C.A
13 17 Ita19770925 Nocentini, Rinaldo Alm
14 88 Fra19820105 Vaugrenard, Benoìt Fdj +0:51
15 1 Ger19810721 Schumacher, Stefan Gst
16 93 Fin19761018 Carlström, Kjell Liq
17 138 Bel19810204 Van Summeren, Johan Sil +0:56
18 13 Sui19780923 Elmiger, Martin Alm
19 113 Esp19760215 Freire Gomez, Oscar Rab
20 155 Lux19780703 Kirchen, Kim Thr +1:00

Complete Official Results
Pre Amstel Photo Gallery

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