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De Jongh predicts tough Amstel Gold defense for Kreuziger

By:
Daniel Benson
Published:
April 19, 2014, 22:58 BST,
Updated:
April 19, 2014, 21:59 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, April 20, 2014
Race:
Amstel Gold Race
Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) was third overall in Tirreno-Adriatico

Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) was third overall in Tirreno-Adriatico

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Dutch directeur thankful for support from Tinkov

After his storming ride in last year's Amstel Gold Race, it's unlikely that Roman Kreuziger will be given the same amount of leeway in this year's edition of the race. Twelve months ago the Tinkoff-Saxo rider broke clear with 17 kilometres to go, and was part of a group which caught solo leader Mikel Astarloza. He then slipped clear inside the final seven kilometres to take the biggest one-day win of his career.

This year, Kreuziger has been an integral part in Alberto Contador's successful season but has still managed to earn himself fifth in Strade Bianche and third in Tirreno-Adriatico. He recently finished 17th overall in Pais Vasco where he helped Contador add to his growing pile of 2014 overall wins.

"He's a bit tired from Pais Vasco, but it was a really hard race this year and a lot of riders are complaining. I don't think he'll be superb at the beginning of the race but towards the end I think his fitness will show and he'll be good," Tinkoff-Saxo directeur sportif Steven de Jongh told Cyclingnews on the eve of the race.

"It's possible that he can win again. After what he did last year though it's going to be difficult because now the rest of the peloton know that if he attacks he can hold on. He's a danger so he'll be watched. That's not to say we don't have a game plan. I can't share everything but we won't be waiting for the final climb up the Cauberg."

The new finish currently in use at Amstel sees the race finish less than a kilometre from the top of the final ascent of the Cauberg. It's an element that can draw out late attacks but gives those chasing from behind a glimmer of hope in catching any escape. Essentially, it means Amstel is a more open race than before.

"There are a lot of teams who have good guys who have a strong finish like [Philippe] Gilbert and [Simon] Gerrans and the new finish suits them. Let's hope we have a good race because this course is one that I like. It's a more open race since the organisers changed the finale," said de Jongh.

Tinkov's tolerance

De Jongh, who raced Amstel for Rabobank during his riding days, was recently buoyed by a blog written by his team owner, Oleg Tinkov, on Cyclingnews. The Russian praised de Jongh for admitting to doping during his career but criticised teams for holding unworkable zero tolerance to the past mentalities. De Jongh lost his job at Team Sky at the end of 2012 after he admitted to his past.

"I spoke with Oleg once at the team training camp. I was a rider in an era where it was hard to escape from the things that I did. He respects that I was honest and from there we've moved forward," de Jongh told Cyclingnews.

"I did the right thing but at some point you need to move on. I took my responsibility and it felt good afterwards. I think Oleg nailed it when he described zero tolerance but I can understand why some people haven't come forward like I did. They might have families to feed and I was lucky in the end that I was given this chance by Bjarne Riis. I can understand."

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