Amstel Gold Race: Philippe Gilbert triumphs with powerful finish

Belgian wins Dutch classic for the second time

Philippe Gilbert (Omega-Pharma Lotto) won a captivating Amstel Gold Race with a supreme kick for the line at the top of the Cauberg. The Belgian won ahead of Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and Simon Gerrans (Team Sky).

Gilbert, who came into the race as the defending champion and number one favourite, rode a textbook race - constantly attentive at the front while his team covered a string of dangerous moves, including an attack from Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek) who escaped alone within the final 15 kilometres and came within 500 metres of the win.

The race sparked into life in the final 30 kilometres as Katusha set about splitting the field. Joaquin Rodriguez set the pace on the Fromberg, leading a group of favourites including several of his teammates, Gilbert, Schleck and a trio of Rabobank riders of Robert Gesink, Oscar Freire and Luis Leon Sanchez.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Simon Gerrans (Team Sky) were among the other riders to make the cut as Euskaltel-Euskadi and Garmin-Cervélo were left floundering behind.

On the descent of the Fromberg Jelle Vanendert set a furious pace to ensure that his Omega Pharma-Lotto teammate Gilbert and the break would not be reeled in.

Leopard Trek made its bid for victory over the top of the Keutenberg, the day's penultimate climb, as Andy Schleck accelerated away from the lead group.

Over the final 13 kilometres the Tour de France runner-up stretched out his lead but never had more than 10 seconds as Omega Pharma-Lotto kept him in check. Rabobank, with their cards still to play, looked like the strongest bet for a win as Freire, Gesink and Sanchez all sat in and let Gilbert's team work.

However, with the final climb of the Cauberg up to the finish to come and Schleck's lead hovering around five seconds, it was Jelle Vanendert again who did the work before Rodriguez hit out for home, catching Schleck in the process.

It would have been the winning play if the Spaniard and 2010 world number one didn't have Gilbert glued to his wheel and in the final 400 meters the Belgian came through to take his second Amstel title in two years, joining Dutchman Jan Raas as the only riders to win back-to-back editions.

The early break

A peloton of 190 riders left the paved Markt in Maastricht, Holland and set out along the twisting roads on the east side of the provincial town near the Belgian and German borders. As in most other spring Classics this season it took a long time before the early break formed.

After 90 minutes of racing a group of four eventually received the freedom to go: local rider and breakaway specialist Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano), Belgian Thomas Degand (Veranda's Willems-Accent) and Italians Simone Ponzi (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli).

Nobody bothered chasing the four leaders and after 100 kilometres the gap was up to 12 minutes. It was the biggest local team, Rabobank, who took the initiative in the peloton and once they worked the gap quickly dropped back to three minutes on the demanding, hilly roads.

Rabobank reshuffles cards: two old and two new leaders

With 90 kilometres to go Rabobank put the pedal to the metal and thanks to the efforts from Maarten Tjallingii and Bram Tankink the peloton split apart. On the Sibbergrubbe Luis Leon Sanchez put their good work to use with a solo attack which was neutralized by Damiano Cunego (Lampre) and Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Hitting the Cauberg for the second time, the peloton re-grouped at only half a minute from the leaders, just as Timmer and Ponzi were dropped. The peloton was looking increasingly nervous and after the Cauberg another Rabobank attack followed, this time from Carlos Barredo.

The Spaniard needed about 15 kilometres to close the gap to the two leaders. Belgian rider Jan Ghyselinck (HTC-Highroad) also closed the gap on his own, creating a leader's group of four. Omega Pharma-Lotto kept the gap under a minute and slowly the time started dropping until they were caught when reaching the Loorberg with 36km remaining.

Finale gets underway

A grouped peloton headed to the important Gulperberg which opens the finale at 28km from the finish line atop the Cauberg in Valkenburg.

It was here that Leopard Trek teammates Fabian Cancellara and Fränk Schleck both crashed, the Luxembourg national champion crashing first and bringing down the Swiss rider.

While their race was over, it was at this point Omega Pharma-Lotto and then Katusha began to up the pace.

Results

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 6:30:44
2 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 0:00:02
3 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:04
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek 0:00:05
5 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha Team
6 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
7 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:07
8 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack 0:00:18
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:19
10 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:26
11 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:00:28
12 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:36
13 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:48
14 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 0:01:38
15 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:01:39
16 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:01:44
17 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:02:09
18 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
19 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:10
20 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:02:13
21 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:02:14
22 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
23 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
24 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:02:15
25 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
26 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:02:18
27 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard
28 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:02:20
29 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:02:21
30 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
31 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Procycling
32 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
33 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:02:23
34 Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
35 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana 0:02:24
36 Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad
37 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale
38 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:26
39 Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil - Shimano
40 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:02:27
41 Addy Engels (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team
42 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:02:28
43 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
44 Philip Deignan (Irl) Team RadioShack
45 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD
46 Julien El Fares (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
47 Francesco Reda (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:02:29
48 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Katusha Team
49 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team
50 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
51 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo
52 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:02:34
53 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:02:36
54 Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling 0:02:40
55 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team RadioShack 0:02:46
56 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
57 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Sky Procycling
58 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:02:47
59 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
60 Iván Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:02:48
61 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team
62 Michael Albasini (Swi) HTC-Highroad 0:02:54
63 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek 0:02:57
64 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek
65 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Movistar Team 0:02:58
66 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
67 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:21
68 Rémy Di Gregorio (Fra) Pro Team Astana 0:03:25
69 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:03:57
70 Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:04:19
71 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
72 Francesco Failli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli 0:04:39
73 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
74 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana
75 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Procycling 0:04:48
76 Pieter Serry (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:05:54
77 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet 0:05:55
78 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
79 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
80 Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
81 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:05:59
82 Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
83 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Skil - Shimano 0:06:00
84 Marc De Maar (AHo) Quickstep Cycling Team
85 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:06:01
86 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
87 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:06:02
88 Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShack
89 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
90 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:06:03
91 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
92 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:04
93 Maciej Paterski (Pol) Liquigas-Cannondale
94 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 0:06:05
95 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
96 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:06:27
97 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
98 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:31
99 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:07:18
100 Jürgen Van Goolen (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent 0:08:03
101 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:08:13
102 Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:08:14
103 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
104 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:08:15
105 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre - ISD
106 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana 0:08:25
107 Thomas Degand (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent
108 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:09:11
109 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano 0:09:12
110 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana
111 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team
112 Brian Vandborg (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:09:13
113 David Millar (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo
114 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
115 Leonardo Giordani (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
116 Jesús Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team 0:09:14
117 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:09:16
118 Michel Kreder (Ned) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:09:17
119 Marco Pinotti (Ita) HTC-Highroad 0:12:24
120 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Skil - Shimano
121 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:12:25
122 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:12:26
123 Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team
124 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
125 Bram Schmitz (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent 0:12:27
126 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
127 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team 0:13:18
128 Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
129 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:13:19
130 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
131 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:13:21
132 Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team
133 Danny Pate (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:13:24
134 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne 0:13:28
135 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:13:31
136 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Katusha Team 0:13:33
137 John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:13:34
138 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) HTC-Highroad 0:13:44
139 Reinier Honig (Ned) Landbouwkrediet 0:13:48
140 Grégory Habeaux (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent 0:13:59
141 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:14:14
142 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling 0:15:03
DNF Gert Dockx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNF Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNF Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNF Matthew Brammeier (Irl) HTC-Highroad
DNF Caleb Fairly (USA) HTC-Highroad
DNF Yuriy Trofimov (Rus) Katusha Team
DNF Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
DNF Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek
DNF Anders Lund (Den) Leopard Trek
DNF Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNF Dominik Nerz (Ger) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNF Simone Ponzi (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
DNF Rui Costa (Por) Movistar Team
DNF José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
DNF Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Mads Christensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Laurent Didier (Lux) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Gustav Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank Sungard
DNF Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Procycling
DNF Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo
DNF Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team RadioShack
DNF Grégory Rast (Swi) Team RadioShack
DNF Sam Bewley (NZl) Team RadioShack
DNF Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNF Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
DNF Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
DNF Gianluca Mirenda (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
DNF Davide Ricci Bitti (Ita) Farnese Vini - Neri Sottoli
DNF Benjamin Gourgue (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNF Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
DNF Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano
DNF Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano
DNF Yann Huguet (Fra) Skil - Shimano
DNF Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil - Shimano
DNF Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent
DNF Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

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