Saxo Bank and Evans take positive aspects from Amstel Gold Race
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Saxo Bank and Evans take positive aspects from Amstel Gold Race

by Conal Andrews at 8:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Spring Classics, Amstel Gold Race

Team Saxo Bank and BMC Racing had both started yesterday’s Amstel Gold Race hoping for success, but both were left thinking of what might have been afterwards.

In the case of Saxo Bank, the riders were amongst the strongest in the event, driving the pace along and setting things up for impressive attacks by Frank and Andy Schleck. However they were unable to remain clear in small breaks until the end, and had to take their chances in the big group finish on the Cauberg.

Frank Schleck was a solid seventh, seven seconds behind a rampaging Philippe Gilbert, while his brother was eighteenth.

Directeur sportif Kim Andersen saw merit in their performances afterwards, saying they did what they could but were also a little unlucky.

“We had hoped that the course would have been much harder, but the weather was simply too good,” he elaborated, when speaking to “The wind was not there at all, which meant that despite a high average speed, the leading group remained big for a long time.”

Both riders were clear in moves but once things came back together, the emphasis shifted to having the strongest finishing effort possible on the Cauberg.

Andersen said that the two were hit by misfortune at this crucial point. “In the last corner there was a crash, which meant that both Andy and Frank had to take their foot out of the pedal. It is quite obvious that this hampered them,” he stated.

Despite that, he can come away from the race knowing that the team was one of the main protagonists, and that the two Schleck brothers are in the right sort of condition to be able to aim for success in la Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

“I am satisfied with the riders' performance and honestly, the strongest guy in the bunch won today,” he said.

World champion Cadel Evans dedicated himself to helping Karsten Kroon, last year’s runner-up. The BMC Racing riders did what they could but Kroon said afterwards that he ran out of steam. He was ninth and Evans thirteenth.

The latter said on his blog that he was not too disappointed, and that he had good sensations during the race.

“[This was] 257 kilometres of the most nervous racing I do all year; left, right, up, down, left, right on narrow, narrower and the narrowest roads Holland has to offer. It is only my third start here, and for that, the fact he is a top bloke, and he's good at this race, I was more than happy to ride for 'KK' Kroon today.

“He struggled in the final - like everyone except Gilbert - to get ninth. I was a bit behind with Freire and Ivanov, nothing special but my best Amstel at least, that's definitely not special! After three weeks of Giro training, it's a good sign.”

Evans will now assume team leadership for the remaining two Ardennes Classics, Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday and next Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège. His previous best finishes in both races were in 2008; he was second behind Kim Kirchen in Flèche and then seventh in Liège.


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