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Roche 33rd in Amstel as Gilbert conquers

Posted 18 April 2010

Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) reaffirmed his staus as one of the world’s greatest classics riders by winning Amstel Gold with a spectular finish on the Cauberg.

The Belgian bounced back from a failed solo attempt to spring to victory on the final ascent of the Cauberg when a select group of about 20 riders closed in on Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) just 600 metres from the finish.

There was no match for Gilbert’s acceleration and he gained a number of bike lengths to celebrate a comfortable victory while Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) beat Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) for second place.

Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) was the best placed Irish rider finishing 33rd having lost contact with the lead group after Andy Schleck (Saxo-Bank) splintered the peloton with a blistering attack over the climb of the Eyserbosweg with 20 kilometres to go. Philip Deignan (Cervelo) withdrew from the event.

Gilbert’s strenght on the run into the finish in Valkenburg was astonishing and he rode superbly, responding to a succession of attacks before launching his own initial bid for victory and in then recovering to win the race.

The race was always destined to explode over the final four climbs once the peloton pulled in an early breakaway with 30 kilometres remaining.

An attack by Marco Macato (Vacansoleil) was short-lived as Schleck caught and passed him on the Eyserbosweg with Gilbert making sure to be one of the six riders he towed with him as smaller chasing groups formed behind.

Gilbert responded again when Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) attacked after the climb of the Fromberg just three kilometres later with Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) joining them in going clear.

World Champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) did most of the work in bringing the chasing group back into contact before last year’s winner Sergeui Ivanov (Katusha) attacked on the run into the penultimate climb of the Keutenberg.

Gilbert, Cunego, Kolobnev and Frank Schleck gave chase over the 9.4% climb with the Belgian reserving enough to jump again as the quartet caught Ivanov with just 11 kilometres to go.

He gained 15 seconds but his chances of winning looked lost when he was pulled back after 3 kilometres with Kolobnev this time taking his opportunity to launch what almost turned out to be the race winning move.

He held a narrow 9 second advantage over the four chasers who were subsequently joined by a group of 18 riders including Evans and teammate Karsten Kroon, the two Schlecks, Robert Gesink and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Roman Kreuziger and Vincenzo (Liquigas-Doimo).

Kolobnev’s lead was never enough as he started the Cauberg and he was quickly swallowed up while Gilbert bided his time for a handful of seconds before launching clear for an emphatic victory.

“I started as the big favourite and winning a race in that position is the sweetest thing there is. There was a lot of wind (after the Keutenberg) and I decided to wait. I think I won the race with that decision. I had time to recover before the final climb and was able to win the sprint,” Gilbert told journalists after the race.


Amstel Gold, 257.8 kms

1. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 6 hours, 22 mins, 54 secs.
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) at 2 secs.
3. Enrico Gasparotto (Astanta) same time.

33. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) at 2 mins 36 secs.

DNF – Philip Deignan (Cervelo Test Team).

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