By Gregor Brown in Valkenburg, The Netherlands
Four years ago, Italy's Davide Rebellin dominated the three races known as the Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege – and by finishing fourth on Sunday in the first of three, the Team Gerolsteiner rider has shown at 36 year old he is still a strong force to be reckoned with.
"I was good but not super," he confessed to Cyclingnews following his finish in the Dutch one-day Classic, the 43rd Amstel Gold Race. After 257.4 kilometres of racing, he closed the day three spots behind his fellow Veronese, Damiano Cunego.
The rider known as 'Tintin' made the winning break after the Eyserbosweg at nearly 18 kilometres remaining. Not content to stay in the group that contained Cunego, Alejandro Valverde and Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne), Fränk Schleck (Team CSC), Kim Kirchen (High Road) and Thomas Dekker (Rabobank), he launched his own move eight kilometres later.
Rebellin's solo move did not pan out and afterwards he remained at the back of the group, leading to the race-ending climb up Cauberg. "We worked together well in the group," he explained. "There was a lot of stress, but in the end I was in the front group."
"The attack... I knew that on the Cauberg that I could make a difference. I was going well, but I was not super. Cunego went really strong today and so he deserved this win."
Rebellin will be back for the Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday – a race he won last year – and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. "There are two races left and I hope to win one of them."