Amstel Gold Race
Please visit the official site: click here.
A Peculiar Obsession
The Warrior is ready for battle -
With Dario Pieri coming so close to victory last Sunday in Roubaix, the Italians cross the Alps again and will be an even stronger force to be reckoned with in Netherlands than they were in the l'Enfer du Nord.
Race favourite and last year's winner, Michele Bartoli, sends out this message from his excellent website -
I'm training very hard in these days waiting for the next Classics of the North. The positive sensations I felt in the last races make me optimist: I'm not promising anything but I hope to be a protagonist in the Amstel Gold Race, in the Flèche Wallonne and in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In the Tour des Flandres too, I confess to you, I could do something better. I didn't feel any physical problems and my legs were ok, but I didn't know what I could expect by myself. I wasn't able to manage me maybe and I started the race without knowing how many energies I had. At the end I felt well, that's why I tell you I could have done more.
Anyway I am very happy for the very good result conquered by my friend Dario Pieri on the pavé of the Paris-Roubaix. Dario and I used to go out together not only to train: we went out with some friends last week and this brought him luck so that we will meet again tomorrow. Then, on Friday, we will leave to the Netherlands: there is the Amstel Gold Race.
Fassa Bortolo team manager Giancarlo Ferretti is equally enthusiastic about his star riders chances -
"One could not reasonably expect Michele to shine in the Tour of Flandres and even less so in Milan-San Remo, Today, I think it's fair to say that he is now ready for this challenge, even if, instinctively, he shows more interest for a race such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Nevertheless, I am the first to tell him that - you must take every opportunity that presents itself! And, with the Cauberg as the finish this year, I think his chances of success are actually increased."
Please visit the Warrior's official site: click here.
Having injured his knee in a domestic accident just before New Year “Triple Dekker” comeback seems well on course after a strong performance in the GP Breukink which saw him take the overall Classification. However the 2001 winner is well aware that there is a big difference between a 2.3 rated stage race and the longer distances, harder parcours and speeds of a World Cup Event.
"I certainly do not count myself amongst the favourites, I doubt whether my knee will hold beyond 200 km, for this reason I will put myself at the service of Freire and Boogerd, our two true leaders."
Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches-La Boulangère)
A rider who seems to be the true successor of Laurent Jalabert, it will be interesting to see how the winner of Tour du Haut-Var and fifth placed man in Paris-Nice performs in a World Cup event. The “Baker Boys” rarely have a bad race so expect to be confused once again whether it is a Saeco or Brioches-La Boulangère rider at the head of affairs in the all red team kit!
Cédric Vasseur (Cofidis)
The rider from Dunkirk is out to impress -
"The Amstel Gold Race is a transitional race between the paves and the Classic Walloones - I am aiming for a top 15 finish."
Winner of Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen (with a little help from his friends - it seemed that Capelle also didn't fancy his chances in a sprint against the very strong Kirsipuu, and took off with 600m to go, catching the rest by surprise. Kirsipuu wouldn't chase his former teammate - "I'd prefer to see a friend win, than one of the others") the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team is a great combination of Belgium hard men: Ludovic Capelle, Ludo Dierckxsens, Johan Verstrepen, Marc Streel and Tony Bracke; Ukranian class acts Yaroslav Popovych and Vladimir Doema, and Italian style, Lorenzo Bernucci.
Team morale is sky high so expect another good showing from Gérard Bulens boys.
Please visit the Landbouwkrediet-Ccolnago official site: click here.
The CSC team seems well suited to this race with Michael Blaudzun, Carlos Sastre, Tyler Hamilton, Paul van Hyfte, Lennie Kristensen, Andrea Peron, Jakob Piil, Nicki Sørensen. Tyler Hamilton has never been considered a Classics rider, but then again neither was Riis, yet he powered to glory in the 1997 race. The tough finish would also seem to suit Carlos Sastre - the CSC boys are high on performance, low on results this year - the Amstel Gold could change that!
Riis solos to glory!
Photos courtesy of Amstel Gold, Michele Bartoli, Landbouwkrediet-Colnago.