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Colour on the Cauberg at Amstel Gold Race
All the drama of the past two months of racing
The 2010 spring Classics may have come to a close, but cycling's biggest one-day races have once again left behind a catalogue of dramatic images. Cyclingnews has selected some of the best pictures from veteran cycling photographer Roberto Bettini, which capture all the drama of the spring.
The spring season kicked-off in early March with the Belgian semi-Classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Juan Antonio Flecha took not only the first Classics win of his career but the first for the new Sky outfit. A week later, Bobbie Traksel (Vacansoleil) triumphed in a brutal edition of Kuurne-Bruxxeles-Kuurne, which saw just 26 riders finish the race.
Attention then turned to Italy, where the first major Classic of the year was run from Milan to San Remo. For the third time in his career, Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was first across the line at La Primavera, relegating Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and former-winner Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) to second and third, respectively.
The Classics caravan made its way back onto Belgian soil for the lead-up to the biggest cobbled races of the year: The Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Before those, however, Dwars door Vlaanderen, E3 Prijs-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem were to be decided. Saxo Bank's sensational spring began with Matti Brechel's win at Dwars, before Fabian Cancellara powered away from Boonen and Flecha to win E3 Prijs. A day later, Bernhard Eisel ensured HTC-Columbia a spring victory as he sprinted to victory in Gent-Wevelgem.
On to Flanders, where Cancellara surged away from Boonen on the Muur-Kappelmuur and soloed into Ninove to seal the third 'Monument' of his career. In the run to Roubaix the Swiss played it cool as Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) sprinted to victory at the mid-week Scheldeprijs. Four days later, Cancellara stamped his absolute authority on the cobbled Classics as he stormed away to his second solo win at Paris-Roubaix.
Brabantse Pijl brought the peloton towards the Ardennes and Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack) bested his breakaway companions to seal the final victory of the Flemish portion of the Classics period.
An Icelandic volcano caused havoc with start lists, but nevertheless the Ardennes then commenced at Amstel Gold Race, where Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) outclassed everybody on the Cauberg. The Belgian's victory in the Netherlands lifted him to straight to the top of the favourites list for Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Like Gilbert three days earlier, World Champion Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) claimed his team's first win of the season at Flèche Wallone, as the gritty Australian powered past Alberto Contador (Astana) in the final meters of the Mur de Huy.
Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) had made his presence felt throughout the week of the Ardennes, but the Russian's hopes of victory were again foiled as Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) closed the Classics with his second title at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.