Amstel Gold: Schleck brothers lead RadioShack, Kiserlovski heads Astana
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Amstel Gold: Schleck brothers lead RadioShack, Kiserlovski heads Astana

by VeloNation Press at 7:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 
Schlecks not yet in form of 2011

Andy SchleckSecond and third in last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Frank and Andy Schleck will lead the RadioShack Nissan team in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race hoping for a jump in form.

Both riders have had indifferent early seasons, with the elder of the two riding well early on with fourth on a stage and seventh overall in the Vuelta a Andalucia, but then being less obvious in the races since then. He was 24th overall in both Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and could only manage 30th in his defence of his Criterium International title.

His younger brother Andy pulled out of both Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya. Last week he was 22nd overall in the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, then on Wednesday he pulled out of De Brabantse Pijl after crashing and hurting his hand.

The Tour de France is far enough away for both to be able to build decent form, but the absence of any strong results means that they will be under pressure to deliver on Sunday.

On the basis of form this year, Chris Horner has good claim to protected status for the Dutch race. He was second overall in Tirreno Adriatico and then placed third on a stage and ninth overall in this month’s Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

The RadioShack Nissan squad will be completed by Jan Bakelants, Laurent Didier, Ben Hermans, Maxime Monfort and Joost Posthuma.

Astana looks to Kiserlovski to lead:

Meanwhile the good form shown by Robert Kiserlovski in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco has earned the Croatian the team leader slot with the Astana squad for Sunday’s race.

The 25 year old was ninth and fourth on stages three and four, then showed great strength on the fifth stage to Oñati. He attacked out of a breakaway move and held off a big chase behind for many kilometres, only being caught by eventual race winner Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel Euskadi) and the subsequent stage victor Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the final climb of the day, just three kilometres from the line.

He took third there and ended the race eleventh overall. That followed on from ninth place in Paris-Nice and seventh in the Volta a Catalunya.

“In terms of our riders, Kiserlovski has undoubtedly earned the team captain role for this race,” asserted directeur sportif Guido Bontempi. “He has started the season well, with a series of good performances at Paris–Nice, then in Catalunya and in the Basque Country just last week. On Sunday I have no doubt that he can live up to his good form so far.”

Bontempi has said that he team will take a very aggressive approach to it and the other Ardennes Classics.

The others on the team are Borut Bozić, Enrico Gasparotto, Francesco Gavazzi, Andriy Grivko, Maxim Iglinskiy, Evgeni Petrov and Simone Ponzi.

He sees the latter as another who could shine him, saying that ‘his ability to read the race and exploit opportunities will be very useful for us.’

“Our team is full of young guys whose skills fit this course very well, as we make the transition from the often cobbled walls of Flanders to longer, smoother climbs,” he continued. “We have come here to get a top result and the adaptability of our riders means that we'll be up there battling for the win right to the very end.”

In terms of tactics, Bontempi wants his riders to be at the front before the final climb of the Cauberg, putting at least three or four riders in the leading group.

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