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
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
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
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
257.4 km - 6:35:29 - 39.051
Rank No UCI Code SURNAME, Name Team Time/Gap
1 164 Ita19810919 Cunego, Damiano Lam
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
Pre Amstel Photo
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