Another hectic weekend of racing at the Paris-Roubaix has us eagerly anticipating the upcoming Amstel Gold on Sunday the 18th.
I can’t go any further without mentioning the Paris Roubaix and Cancellara’s unbelievable attack (worth watching the video for the commentary alone!) I didn’t have time to watch the race continue but I did see him attack and the speed he gains is just awesome. Also the Vacansoleil rider who gets dropped while trying to hang onto his wheel must have been a touch demoralised at the finish – he simply rode away from him.
With about 50km’s to go he left the field for dead, including close rival Tom Boonen who couldn’t track him down and no one seemed in the mood to help him out. Fabian became the first man in five years to claim both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix titles in the same season – no mean feat!
This weekend it is the turn of the Netherlands to host the 45th Amstel Gold race starting in Maastricht. The 257km race takes a similar route to last year.
With 31 classified climbs and a decent distance, the race is sure to break riders down and will surely bring out the real men after what must have been a tough few weeks.
Last years race was won by Serguei Ivanov of Katusha who out paced Karsten Kroon and Robert Gesink who finished as a trio ahead of the main pack.
The original race was held in 1966 and didn’t even cost the founder 50 Euros, since then it has grown to become a major race in the Pro riders’ calendar:
Herman Krott (78) was the founder of the first Amstel Gold Race. Although de founder of the only procycling classic in the Netherlands said farewell as organizer and handed the sceptre to his former pupil Leo van Vliet, the Amstel Gold Race is still a central part of his life. A life in which cycling played an very important role.
His amateur cycling team Amstel Bier was one of the best cycling teams of the world at that time. Herman Krott delivered exactly 60 amateurs to the professional cycling pack in 24 years and they weren’t the least. Fedor den Hartog, Gerrie Knetemann, Gert-Jan Theunisse, Ad Wijnands, Leo van Vliet (the current course director), Harrie Steevens and Joop Zoetemelk are the most famous names. “We had a lot of success with the Amstel-team”, the godfather of the Amstel Gold Race looks back with proper pride.
But Herman Krott also had an other dream: organising a classic. The 78 year old from Amsterdam still knows exactly how it all began. I organised, with among other Charles Ruys en Ton Vissers, a few races in the Netherlands. Mainly criteria, but my dream was a Dutch Classic that could compete with the Round of Flanders and Milan – Sanremo. I had already figured it out, Amsterdam – Maastricht would it be. Two city’s with a famous name. Secretly I already had cycled the race several times, nobody knew this at the time. However, it was not achievable. Because of all the bridges and detours, the course became to long. That is why we left from Breda the first time in 1966.”
24 teams will appear at the start of the Amstel Gold Race, making a total of 192 cyclists. Race director Leo van Vliet announced the last 4 wildcards as Cervélo test team (Heinriech Haussler and former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre) BMC Racing team (World Champion Cadel Evans and Karsten Kroon), Topsport Vlaanderen and Landbouwkrediet. Earlier the Dutch pro-continental teams Skil-Shimano and Vacansoleil received a wildcard.
The 24 teams are therefore: Rabobank, AG2R-La Mondiale, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Footon-Servetto, Francaise des Jeux, Katusha, Liquigas-Doimo, Milram, Omega Pharma-Lotto, Quickstep, RadioShack, Saxo Bank, Astana, Garmin, HTC-Columbia, Caisse d’Epargne, Team Sky, Lampre, Vacansoleil, Skil-Shimano, BMC, Cervélo, Topsport Vlaanderen and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago.
A sure bookies favourite is Fabian again and the rest of his Saxo Bank Team. Director Riis has come up with a very strong team for the Amstel Gold Race, as well as Cancellara, the team contains the brothers Frank (winner in 2006 in Valkenburg) and Andy Schleck, Jens Voigt, Nicki Sörensen, Jakob Fuglsang, Jonas Aaen-Jörgensen and Laurent Didier.
Althought Bjarne Riis bombed his Swiss leader to main favourite for the Amstel Gold Race in Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara doesn’t want to anticipate on his chances for the Dutch classic.
“I understand that Bjarne Riis says this, but I’m not busy with the next classic yet, not until Sunday. I would to enjoy my triumph in Paris-Roubaix. After that I will keep myself busy with the Amstel Gold Race.”