Robert Gesink downplays Amstel Gold chances: "I am not the man to beat Sunday."
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Robert Gesink downplays Amstel Gold chances: "I am not the man to beat Sunday."

by Jered Gruber at 5:09 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Dutch Tour de France hopeful feels he's a rider for the long ascents of the Grand Tours, not the short, steep ones of spring

Following a tough training ride in the hills of the Amstel Gold Race, 24 year old Robert Gesink is downplaying his chance of victory in a race that he managed to nab a podium in two years go.

"I am not the man to beat Sunday," said Gesink to De Telegraaf on Wednesday.

Considering the stellar season that Rabobank's Robert Gesink has enjoyed so far in 2011 with an overall win at the Tour of Oman, 2nd overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, and a recent third overall at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, it's hard not to consider the Dutchman as a full-on favorite.

For Gesink, however, it doesn't seem to come down to sheer modesty, but a statement of the truth - he's not an explosive rider suited to the efforts necessary to succeed in races like the Amstel Gold Race, but also in the two races that caused him trouble recently - the Tour of the Basque Country and before that, Tirreno-Adriatico.

"I think I am a rider better suited for the mountains rather than the short, steep climbs. I'm more of a rider for the general classification."

It is a fair statement - the steep, short climbs of Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country saw Gesink on his heels, struggling to stay on terms with quicker riders. Looking ahead to Sunday in Limburg, there's no reason to think that the lanky Dutchman won't be on his heels again.

That doesn't mean he's conceding before he even gets started though. The winner of two stages of the Tour of Oman spent yesterday working on his explosiveness on the numerous climbs that define the lumpy route of the Amstel Gold Race. One after the other, he accelerated up the critical climbs.

Looking back on his previous success at the Amstel Gold Race, it feels like ages ago when the then 22 year old stepped on to the podium atop the Cauberg with Karsten Kroon and winner, Sergei Ivanov. He wasn't unknown by any means at that point, but the late move he succeeded in pulling off was the type of move reserved for a non-favorite. He will likely not get that opportunity this year, but he'll need to break the grasp of a 'bunch' finish on the Cauberg though, as a rider like Philippe Gilbert will almost certainly reign supreme in that scenario. Gesink realizes that it will take some cagey racing on both his own part and his team's if they are going to rule the day at home in the Netherlands on Sunday.

"It was only two years ago that I finished third behind Kroon and Ivanov. This indicates to me that the Amstel Gold Race suits me. I would love to win, but that means I have to race smart. Our team does not have a major favorite in place, but in the breadth of our talent, we have perhaps the strongest collective."

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