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It's been coming for a while and on Sunday Frank Schleck finally got his big breakthrough when he crossed the finish line on the top of Cauberg on his own to win the Amstel Gold Race, writes Susanne Horsdal.
The CSC rider's decisive move came when he attacked on the penultimate climb, the Keutenberg, just after Paolo Bettini had tried to get away but had been chased down. Crucially, no one immediately followed the Luxembourg champion when he moved his move.
In the group of favourites behind Schleck, T-Mobile were represented by three riders, not least the strong and very aggressive riding Steffen Wesemann, and it was he who eventually took to chasing Schleck. When Wesemann began the chase, Sergei Ivanov backed off in the pursuing group, and whenever someone else tried to organise a chase, CSC's Karsten Kroon backed off in the service of Schleck.
But Wesemann's action turned out to be too late. Heading on to the Cauberg, the CSC rider had an advantage of about 15 seconds, but Wesemann never came close to Schleck in the last uphill kilometre. In the group behind fighting it out for the third spot, Rabobank's Michael Boogerd once again made it to the podium, but not in the place he'd hoped for.
As expected, Rabobank were relied to take charge of the race, which meant chasing down the usual early breakaway. That effort apparently sapped a great deal of energy from the orange-clad riders, who eventually had to surrender control of the race before the finale. The result was once again a no-win situation for the Rabos, who only had Boogerd in the lead group.
1 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC 253km in 6.25.39 (39.36kph)
2 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile 0.22
3 Michael Boogerd (Hol) Rabobank 0.46
4 Karsten Kroon (Hol) CSC 0.48
5 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
7 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak
8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step 0.53
9 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner 0.57
10 Sergei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile 1.07
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