Kroon motivated for Amstel Gold, has Evans’ backing for home race
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Kroon motivated for Amstel Gold, has Evans’ backing for home race

by Conal Andrews at 6:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race
 

One year after finishing second to Sergei Ivanov, Karsten Kroon is returning to the Amstel Gold race with a new team and ambitions to finally stand on the top step of the podium.

The 34 year old has twice finished in the top five in his home race; he was fourth in 2006 and then took the runner-up slot last year. It’s clear that winning would be a massive moment for his career, and the BMC Racing Team has given him its full backing for Sunday’s 257 kilometre event.

“We’ll make the race for him,” said his Director Sportif John Lelangue. “Cadel [Evans] is only there to come back to competition so it will be Karsten’s race. The last few weeks he has proven that he has his place on the Classics roster.”

Kroon told Sportwereld that he can count on the world champion’s full support, particularly as the rider himself promised to help out where he can. In doing so, he will fulfil a similar kind of role to the one he played in the Giro di Lombardia last year. He drove the pace there and set things up for his then-teammate Philippe Gilbert to win.

Evans has become noticeably more relaxed since winning the world title in Mendrisio last autumn and appears to be willing to help out.

“If it becomes necessary, I can send Cadel Evans for water bottles,” Kroon told Sportwereld. “Evans, who has been riding strongly throughout the spring, came himself and asked me a few weeks ago if I needed more help in the Amstel. Of course, I said yes to him. Now we will see how it will go.”

Kroon has been targeting a strong performance in the race and has worked hard. Some slight complications mean that things have not gone exactly as planned, but he will be hoping that the home advantage will make the difference.

“I’m not the top favourite. My preparations have not been optimal. I’ve had a few crashes, but last Wednesday in Brabantse Pijl it went really well [he was 15th]. The Amstel Gold Race is important for me for two reasons: firstly, it is actually on my usual training route, and secondly it is the biggest one-day in the Netherlands.”

Kroon will miss the support of one strong rider, with Marcus Burghardt being forced to cancel his plans to ride the race due to injury. He has been replaced by Alexander Kristoff.

Lelangue explained what the issue was. "Marcus has a little problem on the heel of his foot due to the cobblestones in Paris-Roubaix,” he said. "It's more reasonable to have him recover from it totally so his next race will be the Amgen Tour of California."

Kroon and Evans will also compete in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne, and should both do Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Dutchman will return the favour and support his team captain in those Classics, and so this Sunday is his best chance of nabbing a win.

Lelangue is looking forward to watching the team in action at a point when the season starts to be a little more serious for BMC’s ambitions.

“We know we have three races coming – Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25) – where we expect to take some points, followed by the big Tours, where we are aiming for results around Cadel,” he said.

Evans has twice finished as runner-up in the Tour de France, and is vying to become the first reigning world champion since Greg LeMond in 1990 to take cycling’s top event.


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BMC Racing Team roster for Amstel Gold Race, April 18:

Brent Bookwalter (USA), Cadel Evans (AUS), Mathias Frank (SWI), Alexander Kristoff (NOR), Karsten Kroon (NED), Jeff Louder (USA), Steve Morabito (SWI), Simon Zahner (SWI).

BMC Racing Team roster for Flèche Wallonne, April 21:

Brent Bookwalter (USA), Cadel Evans (AUS), Mathias Frank (SWI), Karsten Kroon (NED), Jeff Louder (USA), Steve Morabito (SWI), Jackson Stewart (USA), Simon Zahner (SWI).
 

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