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A happy winner of the 41st Amstel Gold Race
An attack over the top of the Kuetenberg with 10 km to go has given Frank Schleck (CSC) his biggest...
An attack over the top of the Kuetenberg with 10 km to go has given Frank Schleck (CSC) his biggest career win, and CSC's second classic win in a row after Cancellara's Paris-Roubaix success. The Luxembourger powered away from a select lead group over the final kilometres, and had enough left over at the foot of the Cauberg to hold off Steffen Wesemann, who successfully attacked for second place. Rounding out the podium was the always consistent Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), who easily won the group sprint to the top of the finishing climb.
The 41st edition of the race was characterised by a very wet start, and an early breakaway consisting of Christophe Moreau (AG2R), who attacked after 20 km and was joined by Erwin Thijs (Unibet.com), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), Bram Schmitz (T-Mobile) and René Weissinger (Skil-Shimano). The latter was DQ'd from the race after he punctured at km 50 and chased back on behind his team car. The four remaining leaders gained as much as 11'48 before the first passage of the finish line (km 64), but were hunted down by Rabobank. Thijs and Albasini survived until 50 km to go when the T-Mobile driven counter-attacks behind caught them.
At 35 km to go, Wesemann went for it alone and built up a lead of half a minute as the peloton reduced in size behind him. With 14 km to go, Paolo Bettini bridged across to the German, but the pair were caught on the steep Kuetenberg shortly afterwards by Schleck, Kroon (CSC), Ivanov, Sinkewitz (T-Mobile), Boogerd (Rabobank), Perdiguero (Phonak), Sanchez (Euskaltel) and Rebellin (Gerolsteiner). But on the false flat over the top of the climb, Schleck placed his winning attack and no-one was able to match it. The CSC rider finished with 20 seconds to spare on Wesemann, and approximately half a minute on Boogerd.
Also see: Full report, results & photos.