Gerolsteiner 1-2 in Amstel Gold Race

Gerolsteiner took the top honours in the Amstel Gold Race, playing their cards right to get Stefan S

Gerolsteiner took the top honours in the Amstel Gold Race, playing their cards right to get Stefan S
The Dutch were denied victory in their biggest race as Stefan Schumacher and Davide Rebellin gave Gerolsteiner a 1-2 result in the 42nd Amstel Gold Race. Schumacher attacked the leading break of seven with 2km to go to win solo, while teammate Rebellin came past 2005 winner Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) for second. Local favourite Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), who will retire at the end of the season, was fifth, keeping his status as one of the most consistent top finishers in this race. Schumacher was very impressive. He initiated the move that destroyed the peloton on the Eyserbosweg with 21km to go. Then he powered away from the rest with 2km to go, riding up the Cauberg finish climb in the big chainring to win by a comfortable margin. After the finish, he credited his strength to some enforced rest after injuring his knee in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. "I couldn't ride for a while, but that did me good," he said. "I was in the lead group together with teammate Rebellin. We knew that we had to pull this one off. In the sprint, we weren't sure of the victory, so Rebellin and I decided to attack. I chose the right moment and luckily had the power to keep going. I knew that I would only get a chance like this once in my life." At one point in the finale, Gerolsteiner had three riders in the front group as Fabian Wegmann was also there. 2004 winner and today's second place getter Davide Rebellin realised that the pressure was on his team's shoulders to win. He praised his teammate's strength and initiative: "Schumacher is intelligent, he went at just the right time," said Rebellin. "My own form is really good. Hopefully I can cash in on my condition in one of the two Ardennes classics." Fifth-placed Boogerd was philosophical after the end of his last Amstel Gold Race. "The best riders were in front today," he said. "This was probably the best lead group of the spring. I don't think that I made a mistake. I didn't ride too much on the front. But Gerolsteiner played it well. I'm happy that I was fifth, because that was the only place I was still missing here." From start to finish Warm, sunny conditions greeted the riders at the start in Maastricht's Grote Markt, with temperatures in the mid 20s and climbing during the day. The opening kilometres were fast and filled with attacks, with an average speed of 47.5km/h in the first hour. But shortly before the hour was completed, a group of five riders had established itself in front with a one minute plus lead: Nick Ingels (Predictor-Lotto), Olivier Bonnaire (Bouygues Telecom), Tom Stubbe (Chocolade Jacques), Daniel Musiol (Wiesenhof) and Piet Rooijakkers (Skil). Most of the big teams were content to let this move go, as it posed no real threat - unlike last week's early move in Paris-Roubaix that contained eventual winner Stuart O'Grady. The five weren't allowed a huge lead; 8'30 was as big as it got after 80km as Rabobank, Liquigas, Gerolsteiner, CSC, Astana and Caisse d'Epargne took turns in leading the chase. Nic Ingels was the first rider to be dropped from the leading move, the Predictor man lasting until 96km to go. The other four still had six minutes in hand over the peloton, but the gap now started to come down more rapidly. The heat was also taking its toll on the riders' concentration. David Lopez (Caisse d'Epargne) took a tumble when he ploughed into the back of the peloton as he was bringing bidons up to his teammates. Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues) crashed while trying to avoid Bram Tankink, who had stopped for a toilet break. Then Egoi Martinez (Discovery Channel) crashed as the peloton passed the team buses at the top of the second ascent of the Cauberg with 75km to go. Liquigas and CSC put more men on the front of the bunch to bring the four leaders back to 2'00 with 60km to go, and the break was doomed. 15km later, Jens Voigt (CSC), Steffen Wesemann (Wiesenhof) and Daniele Righi (Lampre) counter-attacked, catching the sole survivor of the early break, Piet Rooijakkers, and establishing a small gap over the bunch. But disaster struck CSC when its team leader and last year's winner Frnk Schleck crashed and had to expend a lot of energy to return. Quick.Step stirred things up with Tankink and Barredo bringing half a dozen riders across to Voigt, Wesemann and Righi with 27km to go. The still sizeable peloton regrouped before the Kruisberg, where Astana's Ivanov set tempo for his team leader Kessler. All the favourites moved to the front, including Bettini (Quick.Step), Boogerd (Rabobank), Schleck (CSC), Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Ricco (Saunier Duval) and Popovych (Discovery Channel). Things came to a head on the Eyserbosweg with 21km to go when Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) fired up his engine and let 'er rip on this crucial fourth last climb. Bettini was right on the German's wheel and took over at the top to establish the selection. Boogerd, Kessler and Rebellin made the cut, and there were suddenly two Gerolsteiners among the five leaders. The break rode hard to the Fromberg (17km to go) as a group of a dozen or so formed behind containing Valverde and Rodriguez (Caisse d'Epargne), Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Ricco and Mori (Saunier), Di Luca and Paolini (Liquigas), Freire and Dekker (Rabobank), and Popovych (Discovery). First Di Luca and Wegmann, then Valverde were all able to make it across to the lead group, meaning that there were three Gerolsteiners in front. Wegmann was the weakest of his team and expended himself with an attack before the penultimate climb, the super-steep Keutenberg. Rebellin took over as Wegmann was quickly dropped on the climb, then Di Luca and Bettini tried to cut the group down and stop any more Gerolsteiner moves. They failed in the former, but succeeded in the latter. The break still contained seven riders as it reached the flats before the final climb of the Cauberg. Nearly all of them were proficient at uphill finishes, but Gerolsteiner still had the numbers advantage with Schumacher and Rebellin. As the kilometres wound down, Schumacher put in a half-hearted attack to test the rest of the break. He was marked by Boogerd, who was desperate for a final Amstel Gold Race victory. But there was no Boogerd to mark the German when he made the winning move with 2km to go. Schumacher got the gap and the others gambled that he might park it on the last climb. He opened it up to a full 20 seconds with 1km to go, and started the Cauberg with a healthy advantage, driving it home in the big chainring. Kessler set off after him but ran out of legs in the last 100 metres and was passed by Schumacher's teammate Rebellin for second and Danilo Di Luca for third. Boogerd had to settle for fifth in his last Amstel, while Bettini pushed Valverde ahead of him so that the Spaniard took sixth. Oscar Freire easily won the bunch sprint for eighth, another half minute behind. Results 1 Stefan Schumacher (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 6:11:49 2 Davide Rebellin (Ita, Gerolsteiner) 0:00:21 3 Danilo Di Luca (Ita, Liquigas) 0:00:22 4 Matthias Kessler (Ger, Astana) 0:00:23 5 Michael Boogerd (Ned, Rabobank) 0:00:24 6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa, Caisse d'Epargne) 0:00:27 7 Paolo Bettini (Ita, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 8 Oscar Freire (Spa, Rabobank) 0:01:07 9 Riccardo Ricc (Ita, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 10 Frnk Schleck (Lux, Team CSC) 11 Joaqu¡m Rodr¡guez (Spa, Caisse d'Epargne) 12 Thomas Dekker (Ned, Rabobank) 13 Fabian Wegmann (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 14 Kim Kirchen (Lux, T-Mobile) 0:01:12 15 Samuel S nchez (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:01:14 16 Martin Elmiger (Swi, Ag2r Prvoyance) 17 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus, Crdit Agricole) 18 Johan Van Summeren (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 19 Mario Aerts (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 20 Francesco Bellotti (Ita, Crdit Agricole) 21 Carlos Barredo (Spa, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 22 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz, Astana) 23 Manuele Mori (Ita, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 24 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita, Ag2r Prvoyance) 25 Juan Jos Cobo (Spa, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 26 Egoi Mart¡nez (Spa, Discovery Channel) 27 Laurent Brochard (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 0:01:22 28 Cristian Moreni (Ita, Cofidis) 0:01:23 29 Matteo Carrara (Ita, 0:01:29 30 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita, Liquigas) 0:01:32 31 Karsten Kroon (Ned, Team CSC) 32 Mirko Celestino (Ita, Milram) 0:01:35 33 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr, Discovery Channel) 34 Bram Tankink (Ned, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 0:01:40 35 Iker Cama¤o (Spa, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 36 Serguei Ivanov (Rus, Astana) 0:01:49 37 Simon Gerrans (Aus, Ag2r Prvoyance) 0:02:19 38 David De La Fuente (Spa, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 39 Luca Paolini (Ita, Liquigas) 40 Xavier Florencio (Spa, Bouygues Telecom) 41 Michael Barry (Can, T-Mobile) 42 Paul Martens (Ger, Skil-Shimano) 43 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned, 44 Gorka Verdugo (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 45 Constantino Zaballa (Spa, Caisse d'Epargne) 46 Pieter Weening (Ned, Rabobank) 47 Vincent Jrme (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 0:02:27 48 Luis Pasamontes (Spa, 49 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger, T-Mobile) 0:02:29 50 Andreas Klier (Ger, T-Mobile) 51 Michael Rogers (Aus, T-Mobile) 52 Leonardo Duque (Col, Cofidis) 0:02:47 53 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus, Team CSC) 0:04:09 54 Jelle Vanendert (Bel, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) 0:04:19 55 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita, Milram) 0:04:27 56 Serge Pauwels (Bel, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) 0:04:44 57 Matthew Lloyd (Aus, Predictor-Lotto) 58 Erik Zabel (Ger, Milram) 59 Roman Kreuziger (Cze, Liquigas) 60 Steffen Wesemann (Swi, Wiesenhof-Felt) 0:04:47 61 Josep Jufr (Spa, Predictor-Lotto) 62 Aitor Galdos (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 63 Peter Velits (Svk, Wiesenhof-Felt) 64 Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel, Discovery Channel) 65 Wim Van Huffel (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 66 Johan Coenen (Bel, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) 67 Cdric Vasseur (Fra, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 68 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz, Crdit Agricole) 69 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned, Skil-Shimano) 70 Jes£s Del Nero (Spa, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 71 Jrg Ludewig (Ger, Wiesenhof-Felt) 72 Mikel Astarloza (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 73 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra, Ag2r Prvoyance) 0:05:09 74 Jrme Pineau (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 75 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita, T-Mobile) 76 Christophe Mengin (Fra, Franaise Des Jeux) 77 Bingen Fern ndez (Spa, Cofidis) 78 Patrick Calcagni (Swi, Liquigas) 79 Michael Albasini (Swi, Liquigas) 80 Marcus Burghardt (Ger, T-Mobile) 0:05:21 81 Vladimir Gusev (Rus, Discovery Channel) 0:05:31 82 Unai Etxebarria (Ven, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:05:45 83 Jon Bru (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:06:12 84 Christophe Laurent (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 0:07:56 85 I¤igo Landaluze (Spa, Euskaltel-Euskadi) 0:08:01 86 Eros Capecchi (Ita, Liquigas) 0:08:05 87 Daniele Righi (Ita, Lampre-Fondital) 0:08:25 88 Andriy Grivko (Ukr, Milram) 0:10:23 89 Jens Voigt (Ger, Team CSC) 90 Koos Moerenhout (Ned, Rabobank) 91 Fabio Baldato (Ita, Lampre-Fondital) 92 Enrico Franzoi (Ita, Lampre-Fondital) 93 Andy Schleck (Lux, Team CSC) 94 Mads Kaggestad (Nor, Crdit Agricole) 95 Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita, Milram) 96 Jos Joaqu¡n Rojas (Spa, Caisse d'Epargne) 97 Alexander Khatuntsev (Rus, 98 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned, Skil-Shimano) 99 Jos Alberto Ben¡tez (Spa, Saunier Duval-Prodir) 100 Christophe Kern (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 101 Kjell Carlstrm (Fin, Liquigas) 102 Koen De Kort (Ned, Astana) 103 David L¢pez Garc¡a (Spa, Caisse d'Epargne) 104 Carlos Da Cruz (Fra, Franaise Des Jeux) 105 Stijn Devolder (Bel, Discovery Channel) 106 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe, 107 Nicki Srensen (Den, Team CSC) 108 Christophe Edaleine (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 109 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra, Cofidis) 110 Steve Zampieri (Swi, Cofidis) 111 Anthony Geslin (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 112 Thomas Ziegler (Ger, T-Mobile) 113 Martin Velits (Svk, Wiesenhof-Felt) 114 Floris Goesinnen (Ned, Skil-Shimano) 115 Piet Rooijakkers (Ned, Skil-Shimano) 116 Marcus Zberg (Swi, Gerolsteiner) 117 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa, Rabobank) 118 Giovanni Visconti (Ita, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 119 Francis Mourey (Fra, Franaise Des Jeux) 120 Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 121 Nick Nuyens (Bel, Cofidis) 122 Addy Engels (Ned, Quick.Step-Innergetic) 123 Pieter Mertens (Bel, Predictor-Lotto) 0:12:54 124 Christophe Moreau (Fra, Ag2r Prvoyance) 0:13:45 125 Jens Renders (Bel, Palmans Collstrop) 126 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr, Ag2r Prvoyance) 127 Evert Verbist (Bel, Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) ProTour standings 1 Davide Rebellin (Ita, Gerolsteiner) 92 pts 2 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa, Rabobank) 82 3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus, Team CSC) 79 4 Stefan Schumacher (Ger, Gerolsteiner) 75 5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) 58 6 Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa, Saunier Duval - Prodir) 57 7 Tom Boonen (Bel, Quick Step - Innergetic) 57 8 Andreas Klden (Ger, Astana) 53 9 Alessandro Ballan (Ita, Lampre-Fondital) 50 10 Roger Hammond (Gbr, T-Mobile Team) 45 Got a comment? 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