Roman Kreuziger takes solo win in Amstel Gold Race

Czech rider gives Saxo-Tinkoff its first classics win this year

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Roman Kreuziger of Saxo-Tinkoff won the Amstel Gold Race in a solo effort, joyously crossing the finish line after seven kilometers in the lead. World champion Philippe Gilbert's late attack on the Cauberg chase was fruitless, and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) out-sprinted him from a small chase group for second. Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) finished third.

Kreuziger attacked from the chasing peloton with 17 kilometers to go, and was part of a group which caught solo leader Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi). He left that small group at exactly the right moment and was able to hold onto his lead even after a powerful charge by the big-name contenders on the Cauberg.

Kreuziger finished 22 seconds ahead of the chasing group.

"It was special race. When I went we didn't know what would happen, if we'd stay away,” Kreuziger said.

“In the last kilometre they told me I had 15 seconds at the start of the Cauberg and that was when I started to think I could win. The Cauberg was never ending…”

How it happened

The skies may have been bleak in the bustling Markt Square in Maastricht for the start, but the peloton was wearing decidedly less layers of clothing than what they did throughout the Flemish Classics earlier this month and seemed much happier.

Soon after the 187-strong peloton departed for the 251km race to Valkenburg, Johan Vansummeren (Garmin Sharp) was the first man to attack, and was joined by Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Alexandre Pliuschin (IAM), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), Arthur Van Overberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen). With 50km of racing done, the group’s gap was out to nearly six minutes and the break of the day had formed.

In hot pursuit, was Nicolas Vogondy (Accent Jobs) and Klaas Sys (Crelan-Euphony) and by the time the front five hit the Cauberg for the first time, the gap between the two groups was down to a minute, while there was a total advantage of 10 minutes to the peloton, which was being marshaled by the Cannondale team for hot favourite Peter Sagan.

Content to let the breakaway revel up ahead, the gap had blown out to 11 minutes by the halfway mark.

Shortly before the peloton hit the Cauberg for the second time, a large crash brought down a number of riders including world champion and two-time winner, Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Rui Costa (Movistar) and Andy Schleck (RadioShack Nissan).

The Frenchman was taken to hospital while Schleck later abandoned -the fifth race where he has done so for this season. With the rest of the peloton taking to an open field adjacent to the blocked road, the Amstel Gold suddenly resembled a cyclo-cross race and numerous splits appeared on the roads for the first time. Blanco, despite having a man down, relished the conditions and took to the front to drive the pace, with Cannondale backing off.

On the second time up the Cauberg, the gap was starting to come down, with the lead group’s advantage down to 8:15. More teams started to show themselves at the front of the chase with Movistar, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step and Katusha making their intentions clear. It contributed to the breakaway’s lead continuing to tumble, and with 65km remaining the gap was down to 4:45.

On the Loorberg with just under 60km to go, Astarloza and Vansummeren rode away from their fellow escapees. Pliuschin caught back on but the new lead trio would be forced to work hard with the gap hovering at just over three minutes. It was the first sign that not all was well in the break, and then again on the Gulperberg when Astarloza rode away from Vansummeren and Pliuschin, the latter pair unable to match his acceleration, with the Spaniard going it alone.

Just as the race came alive in the peloton, Katusha’s main hope, Joaquim Rodriguez, crashed heavily near Gulpen, along with Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge). Vacansoleil’s Rob Ruijgh would also get back up, his back would be covered in thick mud. They all got back on their bikes but Rodriguez's race was over and he seemed worried about a knee problem.

The key attack

As the peloton hit the Kruisberg with 42km to go, Blanco and BMC hit the front with the remnants of the breakaway – Vogondy, Sys, De Troyer and Overberghe less than a minute up ahead. Up the Eyserbosweg, Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge) launched an attack. He has some good form having collected a pile of top-10 showings at Vuelta al Pais Vasco and looked strong. However other riders came across from the peloton, including Blanco pair David Tanner and Lars Petter Nordhaug, Astana’s Andriy Grivko and later Kreuziger.

While the peloton mistakenly waited for the last Cannondale rider to chase, the attackers pressed on, smelling a chance of victory. Kreuziger looked the strongest and decided not to risk his chips and go all in on a solo attack.

Using his good time trial skills he surged clear and never looked back, carving out enough of a lead for the final climb of the Cauberg.

Behind him the peloton picked up the chasers, including Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), who had made a huge effort to get across the gap. However Kreuziger was already over the top of the Cauberg and out of reach of Gilbert and the other chasers.

After two difficult years at Astana, Kreuziger is back to his best under Bjarne Riis' influence and gave the Danish team a much needed Classics win.

Results

1Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff6:35:21 
2Alejandro Valverdo Belmonte0:00:22 
3Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
4Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
5Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
6Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling  
7Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
8Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
9Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
10Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
11Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha  
12Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp  
13Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
14Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
15Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
16Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:23 
17Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:00:25 
18Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano0:00:36 
19Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha0:00:37 
20Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
21Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha  
22Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ  
23Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
24Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar  
25Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
26Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp0:00:38 
27Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura0:00:46 
28Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:00:47 
29Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
30Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
31Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
32Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:00:48 
33Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
34Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:00:57 
35Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
36Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:58 
37Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:01:07 
38Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
39Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard0:01:11 
40Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
41Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:12 
42Andrey Armador Bikkazakova  
43Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
44Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:01:13 
45Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:01:31 
46Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
47Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard  
48Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:32 
49Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
50Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling0:01:44 
51Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:48 
52David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
53Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
54Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:02:13 
55Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge0:02:16 
56Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team0:05:01 
57Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
58Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:05:27 
59Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team  
60Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony  
61Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team  
62Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano0:05:28 
63Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
64Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
65Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard  
66Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
67Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:05:29 
68Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:06:29 
69Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
70Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
71Alexandr Pliuschin (Mda) IAM Cycling0:06:30 
72Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
73Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:06:31 
74Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp0:06:34 
75Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp0:09:12 
76Francois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano  
77Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:09:13 
78Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling  
79Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling  
80Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
81Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura  
82Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Crelan-Euphony  
83Egidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Crelan-Euphony  
84Maciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:09:14 
85Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
86Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin-Sharp  
87Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
88Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
89Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
90Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling  
91William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ  
92Bram Tankink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:09:15 
93Albert Timmer (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
94Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp  
95Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
96Joshua Edmondson (GBr) Sky Procycling0:13:15 
97Gilles Devillers (Bel) Crelan-Euphony0:13:16 
98Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Accent Jobs-Wanty0:13:19 
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