|It’s a one hill after the other, summed up to a total of thirtyone climbs. For the second year the Amstel Gold Race choose the famous Cauberg in Valkenburg as its finishline, instead of the flat Maasboulevard in Maastricht. The Amstel Brewery gave its name a long long time ago in 1995 to the race and Mr. Amstel Gold Race himself, Herman Krott, gave his name to the trpohy for the most combative in the race. Former winners of this are Rolf Sörensen (1996), Bjarne Riis (1997), Rolf Järmann (1998), Michael Boogerd (1999), Marc Wauters (2000), Andreï Tchmile (2001) and Bram Schmitz (2002 and 2003). Rather than place the award reflects performance, dedication and sheer guts during the Amstel Gold Race.
The main team, the hometownteam in this Dutch classic is Rabobank. DS (one of three) Frans Maassen knows: “For Rabobank the Amstel Gold Race is very important. For all because it is the only Dutch Classic. We are preparing the team in one extra way. Last Wednesday the team did do a good training in great weather. The whole team was present, except Steven de Jongh and Oscar Freire. Freire will not arrive before Saturday but was able to train good in Switzerland. I think we are ready for the race. Wednesday we rode about whole the course. A good 200 k. And the men who have to do it tomorrow left a good impression on me.
The preparation for the rest for us is merely mental. We will be at the start highly motivated. It is a race that suits us well. We have good expectations. Other than at Paris-Roubaix, than you know you don’t have the team, a winnersteam for that. At Amstel we are more or less obliged to do best.
In the last six editions of the race always a Rabobank-rider finished in the top-three. Two times a man from the Rabo-team won: Michael Boogerd in 1999 and Erik Dekker in 2001. I expect it all will work out well Sunday. We do have two former winners in the team, they will be highly motivated and in good shape. Boogerd and Dekker will be THE men, but also Freire will get a free role. The Amstel is a specific race where one has to be alert all the time. You always have to be in the frontlines. It is hill on, hill off all the time.
But having three men who can win the race, makes us not the winner beforehand. There are many strong opponents. And all has to go wel as well……”