Amstel Gold Debrief

Here are some thoughts following Sunday’s 47th edition of the Amstel Gold Race:

1. Well, Italy finally won a spring classic after what seemed to be a pretty long drought—it just wasn’t the rider or the classic many expected. That said, savvy fans weren’t surprised to see Gasparotto taking the victory Sunday. A rider who has proven able to survive tough races and then win group sprints, the former Italian National Champion finished third last year after winning a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico. His Astana team rode a fantastic race, protecting the Italian with multiple teammates until the final trip up the Cauberg. Gasparotto delivered, timing his sprint perfectly and failing to be overwhelmed by Philippe Gilbert’s initial surge. And while Fleche Wallone and Liege-Bastogne-Liege might be a bit too hilly for him, the question now remains whether Gasparotto’s Amstel performance makes him a candidate to be Italy’s captain for Worlds—a race that will be held on a similar course (with a nearly identical finish) later this season.

2. Speaking of Gilbert, he appears to have found some form at just the right time. While he’s clearly not at the level he was at this point last year (his unsuccessful attack Sunday was essentially the same acceleration he made to win the last two editions of the race), he will be a contender at both Fleche and Liege. And while repeating last year’s historic quadruple is out of the question, a win in Liege Sunday would certainly erase any bad taste from his mediocre (by Gilbert’s standards) start to the season.

3. But while Gilbert’s resurgence is good news for BMC, the team also lost Cadel Evans early Sunday as the Australian continues to struggle with a sinus infection. That’s a blow to Gilbert’s chances as Evans would have been a valuable card to play Wednesday and Sunday. Greg Van Avermaet rode a fantastic race on Gilbert’s behalf yesterday, but an in-form Evans might have tipped the scales in BMC’s favor.

4. Speaking of Van Avermaet, I’m not sure of his contract status, but one has to think he’ll receive some pretty nice offers once it expires. How long can this talented—and still relatively young (26)—rider be expected to sacrifice his own chances on behalf of others?

5. Anyone who underestimated just how much of a role Jelle Vanendert played in Gilbert’s success last year needs to watch yesterday’s sprint one more time. The Belgian will do his best to salvage Lotto-Belisol’s spring with a win later this week.

6. It bothers me when good riders make foolish attacks—and I’m not talking about Katusha’s Oscar Freire. His move made sense and it almost stuck. But I am talking about Omega Pharma – Quick-Step’s Niki Terpstra. Terpstra’s been one of the spring’s most consistent riders. He certainly could have secured his third consecutive top-10 finish in a major classic had he not taken it upon himself to try and bridge to Freire with less than 10 kilometers remaining in Sunday’s race. Some might say he was setting-up Dries Devenyns for the sprint—I’m not so certain.

7. Hats-off to Garmin-Barracuda’s Alex Howes who after finishing sixth in Wednesday’s Brabantse Pijl spent 200 kilometers off the front Sunday. Let’s see what the 24-year-old can do in Fleche and Liege!

8. If you’re going to spend two weeks preparing for a race, Matti Breschel, you might as well finish it. Rabobank continues to be cursed in its home event. It’s been 11 years since Erik Dekker took the last win for the host nation and team. The irony of Oscar Freire (who left Rabobank this past off-season) almost taking the win Sunday had many pundits smirking at their computer screens.

That’s it for me—what’s on your mind following Sunday’s big event?

Follow me on Twitter: @whityost

Image: Photoreporter Sirotti

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8 comments

  1. Paul I.

    @nrs5000 – If by the big 3 from Spain you mean J-rod, Valverde and Sammy Sanchez, the first two were caught behind the crash, and Samu burned a lot of energy catching up after a mechanical not too far from the finish, doing extremely well to finish 7th. I certainly would not count out the former two for Fleche and LBL. I don’t think Sanchez is riding them, it looks like Anton will be Euskatel’s protected rider.

  2. Karl

    Great piece, as usual, Whit. I’m not too surprised about Rabo’s poor showing. I think I saw a bit that they hadn’t decided on a leader and they would go in with 6 protected riders – too many cooks in the Rabo-kitchen.

  3. Nick

    Niki Terpstra was just trying to do what secured him the win at Dwars door Vlanderen…which is what he’s tried many, many times before unsuccessfully. You have to give him credit for consistency!

  4. Jesus from Cancun

    I enjoy seeing different faces getting podium time. Gilbert is one of my favorite riders, but I prefer to see many winners rather that one rider winning everything.

    Maybe that’s why I don’t like Cav’ too much. In 20 years he is probably going to be remembered as one of the greatest riders ever and I will probably tell my grandkids about his achievements, but I still love to see someone else beating him at the line.

    How about Fabio Duarte for Fleche, Voeckler for Liege, just for a change?

  5. Adam

    Just reading Cyclingnews it’s reporting that Terpstra is skipping the Tour to focus on the Vuelta/Worlds combo, so maybe he was giving the Cauberg a crack as a way of scouting the hill better. Who knows.
    I’d be annoyed if I were Cadel. Thor and Gilbert were brought in at great expense to take some pressure off of his shoulders and haven’t done that. Great ride by BMC and Phinney today in the TTT, but I still can’t help but wonder if those two are going to try and go for their own chances in July to compensate for their poor springs.
    Great recap as always.

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