Amstel versus Volcano Eyjafjallajökull

Riders forced to drive across Europe to reach Maastricht

The fallout from the Icelandic volcano has left teams scrambling to find alternative means of transport so riders can reach Maastricht in time for Sunday's Amstel Gold Race.

Some of the 24 teams on the start list, including the Team Sky and Garmin-Transitions teams, have been in the area since Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl. However other teams and riders have been forced to begin long road trips in cars and buses on Friday afternoon, and book early morning trains for Saturday so they can be sure to make it to the start in time.

Brussels Airport confirmed that Zaventem would stay closed until at least 10:00am on Saturday morning and other possible airports riders could travel to in northern Europe are not expected to open before that.

Teams have to officially confirm their line-up for races the afternoon before a race. Some are just hoping to get a minimum number of six riders to Maastricht so they can at least start the race.

“This is force majeure. Nothing can be done against this,” race director Leo van Vliet said on the Amstel Gold Race website.

"Several teams have contacted our organization and they are already taking all possible measures so that they can be in Limburg on time. That is clever. My opinion is that the problem will solve itself, but most important is that the ash cloud disappears soon”

On the road

Italy's Marco Pinotti told Cyclingnews he left his home in Bergamo early on Friday afternoon and is traveling north to Holland with teammate Michael Albasini and several Liquigas riders on a team bus. They plan to drive to Luxembourg on Friday and then complete the journey on Saturday morning so they can go for a ride to stretch their legs in the afternoon. Pinotti has already posted tweets during his trip. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) is also reported to be driving from his home in Lugano to Maastricht, and world champion Cadel Evans (BMC) faces a similar road trip through Switzerland.

HTC-Columbia already has four riders in Belgium and will have the minimum six riders needed to start the Amstel Gold Race but it seems Vicente Reynes will not to be able to travel from Mallorca.

Lampre-Farnese Vini has told its riders, including leader Damiano Cunego, to travel to Milan on Friday and have booked places on a train that leaves Milan at 6:30am on Saturday. The train is scheduled to arrive in Maastricht at 4:30pm, after a nine-hour journey.

Because of the need to fly by air, the Spanish riders could be most affected by the transport problems. The Cervélo TestTeam told Cyclingnews some rider are already in Belgium but flights today for Carlos Sastre, Volodimir Gustov and Xavier Tondo were cancelled. Tondo is now traveling by car from Gerona near Barcelona. That's a road trip of 1200km. The team hopes Sastre and Gustov can fly on Saturday.

Katusha duo Filippo Pozzato and Joaquin Rodriguez were a little luckier and managed to fly to Zurich on Friday. They are driving the remaining 600km to Maastricht.

Perhaps the luckiest rider is Dutchman Karsten Kroon (BMC). He lives just 10km from the finish in Cauberg and will no doubt ride to the team hotel by bike.

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