Gilbert wins big on the Cauberg in Amstel Gold Race
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gilbert wins big on the Cauberg in Amstel Gold Race

by Bjorn Haake at 11:01 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Race Reports and Results, Amstel Gold Race

Philippe Gilbert gave his Omega Pharma-Lotto team its first win of the season when he proved to be the strongest on the Cauberg in the Amstel Gold Race. Gilbert launched the decisive attack less than 400m from the line and left Ryder Hesjedal and Enrico Gasparotto behind. A larger group of around 25 riders had neutralized late attacker Alexandr Kolobnev in the beginning part of the final 5.8 percent climb.

Gilbert was ecstatic at the finish. "I waited until 350 meters to go, then gave it all. I sprinted until 100 meters to go and checked back. I saw that I had 50 meters - those were the best seconds in my career!" Indeed, Gilbert displayed a huge smile before he hit the line. "This is the nicest one-day race in the world," he said to Dutch television.

Gilbert looked like a man possessed in the final part of the race and he confirmed it. "I was very strong today. The last 60 kilometers I didn't do anything and just stayed in the peloton."

He launched a first move with 11 kilometers remaining. "I saw that four riders were following me, so I decided to wait. I think that was a good decision." Alexandr Kolobnev countered immediately. As Gilbert and Co. were caught by a 20-man group, Gilbert kept  his cool. Ten seconds was the maximum gap for Kolobnev.

Gilbert himself put a lot of effort in to close the gap before the Cauberg. Kolobnev was caught early on the climb and Gilbert did the rest. "It was like last year, when I won the sprint for fourth," he said. Only this time no breakaway was ahead of him at the top.

Breaking early

After a mere five of the 257 kilometers, a group of seven escaped the peloton. Rafael Valls (Footon-Servetto), Staf Scheirlinckx (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Peter Wrolich (Milram), Sebastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet), Thierry Hupond (Skil-Shimano), Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Arnoud Van Groen (Vacansoleil) were let go and had a comfortable six minutes after 70 kilometers of racing, when they tackled the Cauberg for the first of three times.

Their maximum advantage was 6'30, after about 120 kilometers. At the first of two ascents over the difficult Eyserbosweg, the gap was down to 2'40, with around 100km left.

The second time up the Cauberg, with 75km remaining, the gap had increased again to around four and a half  minutes, after Saxo Bank had dropped back from helping Rabobank to make the pace at the front.

This helped three riders to  escape the peloton in pursuit of the leaders: Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet), Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) and Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen). At the 200 kilometer mark, at the Bemelerberg, the three were 3'55 behind the front group, with the peloton almost five minutes back.

More riders tried to bridge, but with 46km to go, the peloton had prevented all bridge attempts. The bunch - back together again - was around 2'20" behind the six leaders, with Valls having fallen back. But the pace then really increased and with 31 kilometers to go the front group was caught, with the bankers' teams - Saxo Bank and Rabobank - leading the charge.

The favorites get to work

Andy Schleck was close to the front at the Kruisberg, with the other favorites nervously watching the Luxemburger. After the top, Marco Marcato attacked and stormed ahead. He had to surrender on the difficult Eyserbosweg to Andy Schleck, but the latter was still closely watched by the others. His brother Fränk also showed himself at the front and tried a few moves.

Cunego attacked with 15km to go. He drew Fränk Schleck , Gilbert and Kolobnev with him. Evans led the chase, as the World Champion was working for Dutchman Karsten Kroon. The four were quickly brought back, but the accelerations had left a lot of others behind and there were only about 25 riders still in contention.

Last year's winner Serguei Ivanov  went on the attack with 13 kilometers remaining. He was caught by Gilbert and Evans just before the Keutenberg. On the climb Ivanov accelerated again and dropped Gilbert and Evans. Gilbert and Evans were joined by  Damiano Cunego, Fränk Schleck and Kolobnev on the climb.

As Ivanov faded, and Gilbert went with 11 kilometers to go, after the group pedaled over a  plateau that followed the climb. Gilbert  built a lead of six seconds ahead of the four chasers, but was caught a good kilometer later. The next to go was Kolobnev, who looked to have the most promising move thus far. The Katusha rider knew that in the four-man group behind, his teammate Ivanov would be able to save some energy.

With six kilometers left Kolobnev had around ten seconds on the chasers, and 20 seconds on a larger group with around 20 riders that contained Evans, Kroon, Sylvain Chavanel, Oscar Freire and others. That group caught the Cunego-Gilbert-Schleck-Ivanov group with four kilometers to go, leaving Kolobnev to fight off a 20-strong group.

Gilbert looked as though he was overdoing it, spending a lot of time on the front. When Kolobnev was caught on the Cauberg, the attacks started. Chavanel tried to go on the right hand side of the road, but his facial expression quickly revealed that he was not up for the task. Something that cannot be said for Gilbert as he rode away unchallenged with what looked like the same dominating form he displayed last fall.

2010 Amstel Gold Race results:

1. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions)
3. Enrico Gasparotto (Astana)
4. Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet)
5. Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas-Doimo)
6. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
7. Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank)
8. Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team)
9. Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing)
10. Christopher Horner (Team RadioShack)


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