Good day and welcome to round four of the World Cup, the Amstel Gold Race in
Holland. This is the only World Cup race hosted by that country.
Today's race covers 251 kilometers and 31 climbs, a list of
which can be found
join the race in progress - please refresh this page (F5) to view the latest
information. Our commentary today is by Jan Janssens.
There is an early break of two young Belgian riders up front: Johan van Summeren and Jan Kuyckx. After 63 kilometres they attacked, later on with Peter Wuyts attempting to get to them. The two up front have a 7 minute lead on the peloton, Wuyts is 2.30 behind.
After a while, Rabobank took the lead in the peloton, but the two leaders widened the gap to 8 minutes.
The leaders have a 9-minute lead now. Wuyts (Mrbookmaker), in the counter-attack, has gotten the company of Van Katwijk (Bankloterij). They have a 5.30 gap on Van Summeren and Kuyckx.
On Dutch tv, Museeuw and Merckx are sitting in the studio. Mart Smeets (the famous Dutch sports reporter) asks them whether they looked upon Amstel as being a "real" classic, rather than an artificially created race.
Merckx says that it's not as "big" as Flanders or Roubaix, but that's it's still a big race. To Museeuw it is definitely a classic; way bigger than for example Hamburg.
Johan won it once, and was three times in the top 3. He rode it out 14 times. Merckx was also three times in the top three.
Merckx is being his usual modest self, while Museeuw is calling him a "superchampion"...and Smeets is more or less on his knees before Eddy...
Smeets asks Museeuw about the future of Belgian classic racing after his retirement, but he refuses to name good young riders, because that might be too much pressure on their shoulders. Tom Boonen (not riding today) is about the only one mentioned by name, but Museeuw says that they should give him some time to grow. He also thinks that it's not a good idea to give Tom full leadership within the team just yet. He might be ready for it physically speaking, but it might be too heavy a burden to carry for a young rider. He mentions that it might have been that burden that got VdB in so much trouble later in his career.
Good to mention might be that in the Scheldeprijs, Museeuw gave Boonen his "lucky charm", like a passing between generations. They both refuse to say what it exactly is, like a hanger or something to put in under your saddle; Boonen says that he might say what it is after his career, or pass it on to another younger rider. For now, it's their little secret.
Rabobank DS Erik Breukink says that his team has three leaders for today: Boogerd, Dekker and Freire, while Museeuw reckons that Van Petegem will be looking for a revanche (rematch) today.
There's an enormous number of people here, for Holland's big day of cycling!
There have been crashes today, with the most important victim being Beat Zberg, who broke his knee and sustained a head injury; he has obviously been taken to the hospital. He's always done well here, twice in the top 3 - we wish him the very best.
The leaders have a 6-minute lead still, and the Rabobank team is leading the peloton. There's 5 of them in the front of the peloton, which reflects a bit what they say about Amstel outside of Holland: "Amstel is Rabobank's World Championship".
The Rabobank team is leading the peloton and putting up a HUGE pace, and in combination with the strong wind there are riders dropping at the back all the time. We saw Peña, and Hammond struggling at the back.
It's a bit of a pointless fight really, once you've been dropped with this wind, it's very hard to come back.
Hammond is a good friend of Backstedt. He calls him "Maggie."
84 kms to go. The peloton is now climbing the Sibbergrubbe, while Van Summeren and Kuyckx are on the Cauberg - the 2nd passing of the Cauberg by the way, of three total times over that climb. The race finishes on the Cauberg.
Now the peloton is on the Cauberg. The race usually really starts now, when the lesser riders and the helpers are still just hanging on. All the favourites are still quietly in the peloton.
I can tell you something about Jo Planckaert, who crashed as well. He was talking to his DS at the team car, when a dog ran across the street, and the Gerolsteiner car tried to avoid it, accidentally knocking over Jo. He was taken to a hospital, but he only sustained a minor concussion.
In the peloton, Ludo has joined the Rabobank boys in leading the peloton; maybe Popovych is feeling well? After all, the Giro IS close by, so he should be in a good enough shape.
The tempo is high, there's a whole bunch of riders hanging on at the back of the peloton, on a long straight line.
The lead of the two up front has shrunk to 3.45 now, because of the tempo Ludo and Rabobank are putting up.
Bettini is a favourite for today, and has a very strong Italian guard around him with Quickstep - Paolini, Bramati and Zanini (former winner of Amstel).
Crash in the peloton, with Burgos (Bodysol-Brustor) as victim. Camenzind is chasing the peloton, probably after puncturing. Camenzind has a good shot at winning here, and he's got good memories of this course: he became world champion here. Van Petegem came in second that day.
A small break of 5 riders escaped from the peloton: Vierhouten, Aldag, Kroon, Rogers and a Chocolade Jacques rider.
Amstel is another race that in the past few years now, has the finish on top of the Cauberg. The number of favourites is seriously sized down with that, actually giving more opportunity to the riders of the Ardennes classics, like Bettini and Camenzind. There are people who whisper that the finish was actually remade for home favourite Michael Boogerd, and well, it's certainly true that he takes advantage of this!
The Chocolade Jacques rider with the 5 is Van Velzen.
50kms to go. Van Summeren is leaving behind Kuyckx up front.
Van Summeren always seems to be struggling, but that's his style. He's got these very long legs that can produce some serious power!
Kroon isn't cooperating with the other chasers, probably thinking that he's got Boogerd, Freire and Dekker in the peloton.
Van Petegem is riding in the back of the peloton, as usual!
Fassa Bortolo is now chasing in the peloton, they're about the only really big team without a rider in the break.
The 5 chasers have a 35 second lead over the peloton.
Van Summeren is one of the young guns in Lefevere's Bodysol-Brustor team, which is actually a mix of the former éspoir team of Herman Frison and the Spanish 2nd division team Relax-Fuenlabrada. In fact, the team has a Spanish license, and when they ride in Spain they aren't named Bodysol-Brustor, but Relax-Bergasol!
The 5 chasers have caught the poor Kuyckx, and immediately drop him again. Now Aldag attacks, and gets Kroon in his wheel.
Van Summeren's back wheel is strangely swinging, he might have to have it fixed sometime soon.
Rogers, Van Velzen and Vierhouten have been caught again by the peloton, where Fassa is chasing. Kroon and Aldag still up chasing van Summeren.
Van Summeren punctures! Looks like we were right about his back wheel!
Now Aldag and Kroon are the leaders, with Van Summeren chasing them, they switched places! But the peloton catches Van Summeren...
Good ride by the young guy though! This is how you learn how to win classics; by showing yourself up front!
Now the peloton is with Aldag and Kroon as well, and there's immediately a Lotto rider attacking, Leon Van Bon. It's his thirtysomethingth attack in the spring classics this season.
In the back of the peloton, Erik Dekker congratulates Van Summeren with his effort, a very thoughtful guy, Dekker.
Here we go again: Van Bon caught, an attack from Peers and Pozzato!
But *sigh*, they're taken back by the peloton.
We're in a bit of a dead zone at the moment, but in some 10 kilometers starts the hill zone, and then we'll see who's got the legs and who ain't got the legs. Amstel is a bit like Flanders, without the cobbles. A lot of turning and a whole lot of small climbs.
An attack from Pedro Horrillo...people said that his career was over, a year ago. He suffered from a very nasty back injury, but he fought and is back now! He even rode in the Belgian kermesse circuit to get his racing feel back, not very straightforward for a Spanish rider.
36 kms to go. We're on the Wolfsberg now, the first hill of the "final" zone of the race!
Everything seems to be getting back together again, but now the peloton has lowered the tempo after the climb - there's a Gerolsteiner rider attacking.
We're descending towards to the Loorberg now, with a slightly ruptured peloton.
Just In: The last stage of Tour of Aragon won by Petacchi, and Garzelli won the GC. He stole the win for Menchov in the sprint bonifications!
Ivanov attacks on the Loorberg!
This climb and the next one (Gulperberg) are more or less warm ups for the really tough ones up ahead, like the Kruisberg and especially the Keutenberg. Now we start to see the favourites up front:, VdB, Bettini, Boogerd, PVP, etc.
Van Goolen reacts on Ivanov now, together with Lotz and Mazzoleni!
33km to go. The three are with Ivanov now.
There's 5 men chasing the 4 leaders now, they are: Casar, Verheyen, Marcus Zberg, Sörensen and Popovych. Some more riders coming from the back, among them Merckx and Vicioso...
We've got some 15 leaders now, as we're heading towards Gulperberg - they've got 15 seconds.
28 kms to go. Popovych attacks from the leading group, and has now started the Gulperberg solo!
Wow, Verheyen is with him now and passes him by, Popvych parking! Looks like he was a bit too enthusiastic!
Apart from Merckx, there's not really any one of the assigned team leaders up front.
But that's not very strange, as the favourites know that the Eyserbosweg is where it all blows up!
The peloton has caught the 15 leaders again now, and everything is back together! Up to the Kruisberg now, with a blistering pace.
The race is starting to look very good for riders who aren't necessarily climbers, but can explode really hard on a climb once, like PVP and Wesemann.
There's only 60 riders left in the peloton, and everyone's trying to find the best place now before riding up the Kruisberg and the Eyserbosweg...
23kms to go. We're on the Kruisberg!
We're on the steepest part now, this will seriusly filter the lesser riders out! No attacks though. Aha, now Dekker attacks! Mazzoleni reacts, he's looking very strong.
Now Bettini and the rest of the peloton are there too, everything back together, flying towards the Eyserbosweg. 20 kms to go.
Landis accelerates!! He's got some 10 meters. Kessler passes by Landis on the Eyserbosweg. Zabel is dropping at the back of the peloton, Bossoni crashes.
Bettini attacks, Rebellin and Boogerd in his wheel!! They pick up Kessler, and are going FAST!
We've got an elite group up front now: Bettini, Rebellin, Di Luca, Boogerd, Van Petegem and Kessler.
17kms to go, and we've still got the Fromberg and the Keutenberg to go. There's a chasing group of some 10 riders that are only just behind the leaders though!
Bettini attacks in the front group, and gets Rebellin with him.
Bettini and Rebellin on the Fromberg now, but Boogerd is bringing Di Luca, Kessler and Van Petegem back.
Boogerd and Rebellin now have some 20 metres on the the other 4. Rebellin is looking very good. 4 kilometers to the Keutenberg now. The Keutenberg is one of the steepest climbs in Holland, there's even a sign that ays "Bicyclists are advised to go by foot" there!
Boogerd and Rebellin have a 15-second lead over Di Luca, Van Petegem, Kessler and Bettini.
After 230kms the Keutenberg is absolutely HORRIFYING...after 200 meters there's the peak of 22%.
12kms to go. Boogerd and Rebellin are now commencing the Keutenberg. They're both going good up front, and in the back group Di Luca accelerates.
The two leaders are now on the summit, Di Luca follows on some 13 seconds, the three others on 22 seconds. From here on, it's straight to the Cauberg and the finish!
In the meantime, we hear that Van Summeren has been granted the Krot-Trophy, which rewards the most aggressive rider.
10 kms to go. Van Petegem, Bettini and Kessler have caught Di Luca; the two leaders have a 30 second lead now, it looks like the winner will be one of them!
If Boogerd wins or gets 2nd he'll grab his 5th (!) podium place in Amstel. The 4 chasers have an advantage over the two leaders on this part, with the strong wind, but Boogerd is giving it all up front. You could wonder if that's a smart thing to do, with a man like Rebellin in your wheel.
7kms to go. Dekker has left the third group and is now chasing Bettini and Co.
Technical difficulties - our apologies.
Still 27 seconds for the leaders - 5km to go. It's looking like the specialists of the Ardennes classics are on schedule, with the exception of VdB and Camenzind.
3kms to go. Boogerd and Rebellin have a 38 second lead now, the 4 chasers are already thinking about third place today!
Kessler has escaped from the chasing group and is trying to grab third place. But they take him back again, under the lead of Bettini.
Wait, he doesn't totally get to him and Kessler has still a few metres left...Boogerd and Rebellin are in the final kilometer!
They're looking at each other, Rebellin takes first position. The 4 are back together again now, 500 metres to go for the two leaders.
Boogerd is very nervous, the two leaders are going very slow and the 4 are close by! Boogerd attacks!!! Still Boogerd leading, impressive!!
Rebellin can stay with him! Rebellin goes over him and seems to win the sprint! Rebellin wins!!!!
Sprint for third place, Bettini takes it! Di Luca 4th, PVP 5th, Kessler 6th, Dekker 7th.
Rebellin wins his first big spring classic! Boogerd is very disappointed...
So Gerolsteiner's Rebellin scores a victory for Germany, and one for Italy in this Dutch classic.
1. Davide Rebellin
2. Michael Boogerd
3. Paolo Bettini
4. Danilo Di Luca
5. Peter Van Petegem
6. Matthias Kessler
7. Erik Dekker
1 Rebellin, Davide Gst 6h23'44"
2 Boogerd, Michael Rab 01"
3 Bettini, Paolo Qsd 18"
4 Di Luca, Danilo Sae m.t.
5 Van Petegem, Peter Lot m.t.
6 Kessler, Matthias Mob 26"
7 Dekker, Erik Rab 41"
8 Ivanov, Sergei Mob 52"
9 Celestino, Mirko Sae 53"
10 Caruso, Giampaolo Lst 55"
11 Camenzind, Oscar Pho 57"
12 Paolini, Luca Qsd 1'00"
13 Merckx, Axel Lot 1'12"
14 Freire Gomez, Oscar Rab 1'16"
15 Bartoli, Michele Csc m.t.
16 Zabel, Erik Mob m.t.
17 Mazzoleni, Eddy Sae m.t.
18 Vandenbroucke, Frank Fas m.t.
19 Serrano Rodriguez,Marcos Lst m.t.
20 Wesemann, Steffen Mob m.t.
21 Sorensen, Nicki Csc m.t.
22 Scarponi, Michele Dve m.t.
23 Elmiger, Martin Pho m.t.
24 Honchar, Serhiy Den m.t.
25 Brochard, Laurent A2r 1'23"
26 Pereiro Sio, Oscar Pho m.t.
27 Vinokourov, Alexandre Mob 1'28"
28 Miholjevic, Vladimir Alb m.t.
29 Landis, Floyd Usp m.t.
30 Pellizotti, Franco Alb m.t.
31 Azevedo, Jose Usp 1'44"
32 Rubiera Vigil, Jose Luis Usp 1'54"
33 Horrillo Munoz, Pedro Qsd 3'43"
34 Gilbert, Phillippe Fdj m.t.
35 Barry, Michael Usp m.t.
36 Bertolini, Alessandro Alb m.t.
37 Valoti, Paolo Dve m.t.
38 Verheyen, Geert Cho m.t.
39 Lotz, Marc Rab m.t.
40 Zberg, Markus Gst m.t.
41 Blaudzun, Michael Csc m.t.
42 Van Goolen, Jurgen Qsd m.t.
43 Aldag, Rolf Mob m.t.
44 Vanhuffel, Wim Vla m.t.
45 Lastras Garcia, Pablo Ibb m.t.
46 Kroon, Karsten Rab 3'55"
47 Noe, Andrea Alb m.t.
48 Tankink, Bram Qsd m.t.
49 Sijmens, Nico Lan m.t.
50 Moreni, Cristian Alb m.t.
51 Vicioso Arcos, Angel Lst m.t.
52 Rast, Gregory Pho m.t.
53 Cancellara, Fabian Fas m.t.
54 Vainsteins, Romans Lam m.t.
55 Thijs, Erwin Mrb 6'13"
56 Coenen, Johan Mrb m.t.
57 Wegmann, Fabian Gst m.t.
58 Moerenhout, Koos Lot m.t.
59 Gentili, Massimiliano Dve m.t.
60 Peers, Chris Cho m.t.
61 Hauptman, Andrej Lam m.t.
62 Zanini, Stefano Qsd m.t.
63 Arvesen, Kurt-Asle Csc m.t.
64 Kolobnev, Alexandr Dve m.t.
65 Nardello, Daniele Mob m.t.
66 Schleck, Frank Csc m.t.
67 Joachim, Benoit Usp m.t.
68 Rastelli, Ellis Alb m.t.
69 Flecha Giannoni,Juan Ant Fas m.t.
70 Vierhouten, Aart Lot m.t.
71 Popovych, Yaroslav Lan 6'46"
72 Van Bon, Leon Lot 6'56"
73 Hiemstra, Bert Cho 7'50"
74 Casar, Sandy Fdj 8'37"
75 Pozzato, Filippo Fas 9'15"
76 Gutierrez Palacios,José Ibb 9'55"
77 Sanchez Gil, Luis Leon Lst 9'55"
78 Bazhenov, Alexander Dve 11'23"
79 Krivtsov, Yuriy A2r 11'31"
80 Failli, Francesco Dve 11'44"
81 Giunti, Massimo Dve m.t.
82 Wrolich, Peter Gst m.t.
83 Cadamuro, Simone Den m.t.
84 Baranowski, Dariusz Lst m.t.
85 Hammond, Roger Mrb m.t.
86 Scanlon, Mark A2r m.t.
87 Ramirez Abeja, Javier Lst m.t.
88 Bossoni, Paolo Lam m.t.
89 Bortolami, Gianluca Lam m.t.
90 Ballan, Alessandro Lam m.t.
91 Mum, Uros Pho m.t.
92 Van Velzen, Jan Cho m.t.
93 Bramati, Davide Qsd m.t.
94 Mattan, Nico Reb 11'56"
95 Petito, Roberto Fas m.t.
96 Righi, Daniele Lam m.t.
97 Van Bondt, Geert Lan 12'04"
98 Mertens, Pieter Vla m.t.
99 Ivanov, Ruslan Alb m.t.
100 Kirchen, Kim Fas m.t.
101 Simeoni, Filippo Dve m.t.
World Cup Standings after Round 4
1 Wesemann Steffen Mob 116
2 Freire Gomez Oscar Rab 115
3 Rebellin Davide Gst 100
4 Backstedt Magnus Alb 100
5 Bettini Paolo Qsd 94
6 Van Petegem Peter Lot 94
7 Hoste Leif Lot 84
8 Zabel Erik Tel 80
9 Dekker Erik Rab 79
10 Boogerd Michael Rab 76
11 Hoffman Tristan Csc 70
12 Van Bon Leon Lot 68
13 Hincapie George Usp 53
14 Hammond Roger Mbp 50
15 Bruylandts Dave Cho 50
16 O'grady Stuart C.a 50
17 Museeuw Johan Qsd 47
18 Vainsteins Romans Lam 43
19 Di Luca Danilo Sae 40
20 Cancellara Fabian Fas 40
21 Petacchi Alessadro Fas 40
22 Hoj Frank Csc 40
23 Ivanov Serguei Mob 40
24 Klier Andreas Tmo 37
25 Van Heeswijk Max Usp 36
26 Celestino Mirko Sae 34
27 Kessler Mathiaa Mob 32
28 Astraloa Igor Tel 32
29 Aldag Rolf Mob 28
30 Flecha G. Juan Antonio Fas 27
31 Boonen Tom Qsd 21
32 Martin Perdiguero Miguel Angel Sdv 20
33 Casuro Giampalo Lst 16
34 Bartoli Michele Csc 16
35 Camenzind Oscar Pho 15
36 Marichal Thierry Lot 15
37 Paolini Luca Qsd 14
38 Brochard Laurent A2r 14
39 Mercks Axel Lot 13
40 Dierckxsens Ludo Lan 12
41 Ludewig Jorg Sae 12
42 Gilbert Philippe Fdj 12
43 Baldato Fabio Alb 12
44 Nardello Daniele Mob 11
45 Silloniz Aresti Josu Eus 11
46 Mazzoleni Eddy Sae 9
47 Hushovd Thor C.a 9
48 Trenti Guido Fas 9
49 Vandenbroucke Frank Fas 8
50 Guesdon Frederic Fdj 8
51 Florencio C. Xavier Reb 8
52 Zberg Marcus Gst 8
53 Kirsipuu Jaan A2r 8
54 Serano Roddriguez Marcos Lst 7
55 Petito Roberto Fas 7
56 Moreni Cristian Alb 7
57 Gusev Vladimir Csc 6
58 Sanchez Gonzalez Samuel Eus 6
59 Sorensen Nicki Csc 5
60 Devolder Stijn Usp 5
61 Scarponi Michele Dve 4
62 Gobbi Michele Den 4
63 Elmiger Martin Pho 3
64 Michaelsen Lars Csc 3
65 Landaluze Inigo Eus 3
66 Honchar Serhiy Den 2
67 Hondo Danilo Gst 2
68 Popovych Yaroslav Lan 2
69 Mengin Christophe Fdj 1
70 Davis Allan Lst 1