Vinokourov Wins Amstel Gold Race
Alexander Vinokourov (Telekom) has won his first World Cup race. The Kazakh sallied away from nine breakaway companions to win the 250.7-km Amstel Gold Race in 6:01:03. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) outsprinted Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) for second at 0:04. Peter Van Petegem (Lotto) remains the World Cup leader.
The racing started early. At 32 km, Paul Van Hyfte (CSC), Bram de Groot (Rabobank), Gregory Rast (Phonak), Marek Rutkiewicz (Cofidis), Alexander Shefer and Stefano Zanini (both from Saeco), Jose Luis Rubiera (U.S. Postal Service), and Bart Voskamp (Bankgiroloterij) rolled off of the front. Fassa Bortolo rode tempo to contain the break.
The break was kept on a short leash and never led the peloton by more than 3:00. Van Hyfte and Rutkiewicz were dropped, and the bunch reeled in the break just before the Bemelerberg with 62 km left.
Fabio Sacchi (Saeco), Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo), and Bram Schiltz (Bankgiroloterij) attacked and forged a 40-second lead. Rabobank began to chase, and the peloton began to fragment. The lead group contained all of the favorites.
With 32 km left, Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto) and Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Domina Vacanze) attempted to bridge up to the leaders. They came within seconds of the leaders before the Rabobank-led pursuit reeled them in.
With 19 km remaining, Di Luca attacked. Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) and Boogerd went with him. Matthias Kessler (Telekom) attacked and took Armstrong, Boogerd, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo), Francesco Casagrande (Lampre), Di Luca, and the remains of the peloton with him.
Casagrande attacked with 15 km left. Di Luca and Angel Vicioso (ONCE) rode him down. The Lampre rider tried again on the Keutenberg (239 km), but Boogerd, Armstrong, Kessler, Rebellin, Vicioso, Di Luca and Igor Astarloa (both from Saeco), Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze), and Vinokourov caught him. The real race was on.
Casagrande made two attacks, and Boogerd and Armstrong took turns chasing. With five km left, Vinokourov made his move. He led by 0:15 at the foot of the Cauberg (249 km). The others chased furiously to reel him in, but the Kazakh gave his all and held on to win.
Vinokourov dedicated his victory to Andrei Kivilev, the Cofidis rider who was killed in a crash in Paris-Nice. He noted that in Russia and in Kazakhstan, it is customary to honor someone who has died on the 40th day after his death. He added that the day of the Amstel Gold Race was the 40th day after Kivilev's death.
Van Petegem leads the World Cup with 200 points. Dario Pieri (Saeco) is second with 117 points, and Vinokourov is third with 100. Round Five will be Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 23. Who will shine in that race? Vinokourov? Astarloa? Armstrong? Di Luca? Check in on http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!