Team Columbia-Highroad for Amstel Gold Race
Team Columbia-Highroad is heading to the Amstel Gold Race in Holland on Sunday with no clear leader, but with some key riders clearly approaching top condition for the Ardennes Classics.
“I wouldn’t say my form is fantastic, but my winning a stage in the Tour of the Basque Country last week is a very encouraging sign all the same,” says Italian Marco Pinotti. “Amstel isn’t a race which suits me 100 percent, but we’ve got a very well-balanced squad and hopefully I’ll be able to do something to support the team’s overall effort.”
“But it’s a tough race,” continued Pinotti. “From the outside Amstel might look straightforward, but in fact it’s very complicated, very stressful. The roads are narrow and there’s one climb after another. You’re constantly accelerating then easing back again, accelerating then easing back. There’s never any point where you can relax, you’re fighting for position all the time, and it’s not until the last 40 kilometres that the race really takes shape.”
“Our guys are really motivated,” says Sports Director Valerio Piva. “Marcus [Burghardt], for example, volunteered to take part despite doing all the cobbled Classics. Amstel will be his last race before taking a break between now and the Four Days of Dunkirk [in May]. [Michael] Albasini won a stage in the Basque Country, too, and we’ve got a lot of guys like Michael Rogers coming into good form. Kim Kirchen hurt his hip in a crash yesterday but it hoping to be fine to race well.”
“But rather than waiting for the finale as we would do if we had a top contender, we’ll be looking at getting into breaks and seeing what we can do from the word go. That strategy worked out pretty well for us in the Basque Country, where we won two stages, and chances are it could be successful again in Amstel Gold.”
Columbia-Highroad for the Amstel Gold Race: Michael Albasini (Swi); Marcus Burghardt (Ger); Kim Kirchen (Lux); Craig Lewis (USA); Tony Martin (Ger); Maxime Monfort (Bel); Marco Pinotti (Ita); Michael Rogers (Aus).