Gilbert Wins Second Straight Amstel Gold Race
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won his second consecutive Amstel Gold Race.
Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won his second consecutive Amstel Gold Race. The Belgian classics man burst past Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) in the last 400 m to win the rugged, 260-km Dutch classic in 6:30:44. Rodriguez took second at 0:02, and Simon Gerrans (Sky) finished third at 0:04.
A fast early pace discouraged breakaways. Not until 60 km did Simone Ponzi (Liquigas-Cannondale), Pierpaolo De Negri (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli), Thomas Degand (Veranda's Willems-Accent), and Yann Huguet (Skil-Shimano) escape. The peloton did not lift a pedal to keep the quartet close, and the four ran up a lead of nearly 12 minutes.
Rabobank began to chase. The Dutch squad cut the gap to three minutes with 95 km left. On the second ascent of the Cauberg, a little more than a minute separated break from bunch. The break split, and the chase scooped up Huguet and Ponzi. At the summit, De Negri and Degand led the field by 0:40. Shortly thereafter, the bunch reeled in the break.
A number of unsuccesful attacks were made. With 26 km left, Leopard-Trek riders Fabian Cancellara and Frank Schleck crashed. The latter needed a new bike. Ahead, Bram Tankink (Rabobank) accelerated.
Jacob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek) reeled in Tankink, but Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha) countered. The group that formed was composed of teammates Gilbert, Jelle Vanendert, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck; teammates Andy Schleck and Fuglsang; Gerrans; Degand; Bjorn Leukemans and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM), teammates Tankink, Robert Gesink, and Oscar Freire; Danilo Di Luca (Katusha); Alexander Vinokourov (Astana); Ben Hermans (RadioShack); Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD); and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step). Omega Pharma-Lotto took over at the front.
On the Keulenberg, Rodriguez attacked. He was reeled in. Kolobnev made two attacks. Schleck countered the second of these. Omega Pharma-Lotto chased with no assistance from the other teams, and Schleck's advantage maxed out at 0:15. With three km left, Gilbert went to the front of the chase group.
With 750 m left, Rodriguez burst out of the chase group and overtook Schleck on the Cauberg. Gilbert took the Spaniard's wheel and charged into the lead with 400 m left. Behind, Gerrans overhauled Fuglsang for third.
The ecstatic Gilbert went to the podium with his infant son in his arms. "For me this is the most important week of the season," the Belgian said. "I had planned to be at 100 percent at this particular spell and it has proved to be the case. I am starting to have extraordinary experiences in the one-day races, both in training and in the races themselves."
On Wednesday and Sunday, respectively, Gilbert will ride La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Will he have extraordinary experiences in those races? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!