Amstel Gold Race 2013

April 14, 2013, Holland, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

Amstel Gold: the first of the Ardennes Classics!

  1. 10:08:37 CEST

    Welcome to the Amstel Gold Race! The cobbled classics are over, and now we move to the climbing classics. Join us as we accompany the peloton on their jaunt through the Netherlands today.
     

  2. 10:10:26 CEST

    Things will be kicking off any minute now in Maastricht.

  3. 10:12:48 CEST

    The weather forecast for today is supposed to be 21° C and sunshine -- but just across the border here in Germany, it is still coolish and overcast.

  4. 10:15:10 CEST

    This is the 48th edition of the race and will cover 251 kilometers, and will feature our old friend, the Cauberg. In fact, the finish here ought to look quite familiar, as it is the same as last year's World championships.

  5. 10:17:49 CEST

    The race was supposed to have started two minutes ago, but we are still awaiting confirmation.

  6. 10:21:24 CEST

    They have indeed taken off!

  7. 10:29:17 CEST

    Enrico Gasparotto of Astana will wear number one today, but does anyone really expect to see him atop the podium again? We think most people will be looking for last year's third-place finisher, Peter Sagan, or World champion Philippe Gilbert.

  8. 10:33:32 CEST

    Information on the race is a bit sparse at the moment -- but we assume that means that nothing is really happening yet.

  9. 10:40:20 CEST

    Just a reminder, here is the top ten from last year:
        
    1     Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Pro Team Astana     6:32:35      
    2     Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team            
    3     Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale     0:00:02      
    4     Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Katusha Team            
    5     Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar            
    6     Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team            
    7     Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi            
    8     Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Barracuda     0:00:04      
    9     Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale            
    10     Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team            

    Of those top ten, only Freire and Sanchez are not racing today.

  10. 10:44:18 CEST

    Do we have our first attack? We hear that Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) now has 15 seconds on the field!

  11. 10:50:14 CEST

    For an historical look back, here are the winners of the last ten years:

    2012     Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana            
    2011     Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto            
    2010     Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto            
    2009     Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha            
    2008     Damiano Cunego (Ita)            
    2007     Stefan Schumacher (Ger)            
    2006     Fränk Schleck (Lux)            
    2005     Danilo Di Luca (Ita)            
    2004     Davide Rebellin (Ita)            
    2003     Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz)

    From these ten riders, only Gasparotto, Gilbert and Cunego are riding here today.

  12. 10:56:20 CEST

    Our Australian Editor has moved to the Benelux for the Spring season. You can read Jane Aubrey's excellent race preview here.

  13. 11:04:07 CEST

    As Jane tells us, there are two major course changes. The first is that the finish line is 1.8km beyond the top of the Cauberg, as it was in the Worlds. “The other change from race organisers includes a finishing circuit including the Geulhemmerberg before the peloton heads towards Maastricht, then an ascent of the Bemerlerberg and the last burn up the Cauberg. The change to the finish means that the parcours cover 33 climbs in 2013, up from the 31 of the last few years. The race should also become far more selective and more difficult.”

  14. 11:08:41 CEST

    Remember that sunshine we talked about earlier? We are still waiting on it. In fact, it is actually raining at the moment....

  15. 11:16:52 CEST

    Speaking of the last ten years at the race, Cyclingnews has put together a brief summary of those races, as well as photos in this Gallery. Take a look back into time!

  16. 11:18:40 CEST

    Things seem finally to be happening. The official race twitter says we have five leaders, who are 1.25 ahead of two chasers, with the peloton at 2.40.

    No names, unfortunately.

  17. 11:20:23 CEST

    And we now hear that our five anonymous leaders have a 4.45 gap!

  18. 11:21:24 CEST

    It looks like this is our lead group: De Troyer, Pliuschin, Astarloza, Vanoverberghe and Vansummeren.

  19. 11:26:16 CEST

    That would be:  Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Alexandre Pliuschin (IAM), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), Arthur Van Overberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp)

  20. 11:27:18 CEST

    They are being chased by Jelle Vanendert (Lotto) und Klaas Sys (Crelan-Euphony).

  21. 205km remaining from 251km

    11:28:25 CEST

    So to sum it all up, we have five in front, chased by two at 1:25, with the peloton at 4:45. And we have raced about 45km so far.

  22. 11:34:18 CEST

    No, it is not Vanendert chasing, but Nicolas Vogondy of Accent Jobs.

  23. 11:38:33 CEST

    Daniel Oss of BMC talked to Cyclingnews before the race started. "I feel a bit tired but I’m here for Philippe and he’s in shape and we’ll do our best.
    Two pronged attack for the race today with Gilbert and GVA: It’s difficult. Cannondale have a lot of work to do. I think we need to do something surprising."

  24. 195km remaining from 251km

    11:41:21 CEST

    These guys are moving! The gap is now up to eight minutes.

  25. 11:45:22 CEST

    BMC's Greg Van Avermaet also had some words for us today: “I think I’m really strong for the whole classics, almost from Nieuwsbald until now. I’m happy with my condition but the few last races are going to be hard for me because I’m a little bit tired now. We’ll see how the condition is and I hope to have a good race.

    Having Gilbert in the team will most likely work in his favour heading into the last lap. “I think so. I was missing some support in the finals of the other races. I think it’s nice to be in the final with two guys, one with the world champion jersey. It’s easier to race when everybody’s looking to him and maybe that will give me my chance.”

  26. 192km remaining from 251km

    11:48:15 CEST

    The head group has crossed over the finish line for the first time. The two chasers are now only one minute down, but the peloton is a full 10 minutes back.

  27. 11:50:05 CEST

    The two chasers are now only 20 seconds behind the leaders, so we should shortly have a lead group of seven.

  28. 11:52:28 CEST

    Edvald Boasson Hagen was his usual chatty self, Jane Aubrey tells us. “We’ll see how I go. I’m here to help the team. I hope I can do a good job for them. I came in at the last minute. It’s not one of my main goals but it’s nice. I did well here last year at worlds so, we’ll see.

    How is he after Roubaix? “I’m okay but I’m not super.”
     

  29. 190km remaining from 251km

    11:56:32 CEST

    The peloton crossed the finish line (for the first but not last time) exactly 10:43 after the break group. And the two chasers have indeed caught up, so we do have a septet in front.

  30. 12:01:24 CEST

    Cyclingnews also spoke with Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge). “I’m feeling pretty good and of course with Simon we have one of the big favourites here and he’s in really good shape. We’ll do well to support him to win this race.”

    As to his form following  his stage win at Paris-Nice? “I got a little bit sick after that and for the Basque Country so it’s hard to know what my condition is. I’m feeling good so I hope I will be ready. I’ve always had the best results at Fleche but I like all three. They’re big races and really nice races so you have to be everywhere at 100 per cent.”

  31. 186km remaining from 251km

    12:04:57 CEST

    The field must have finally realized that nearly 11 minutes is really more than they are comfortable with. The gap has fallen about half a minute, to 10:05.

  32. 12:10:14 CEST

    Jay McCarthy  is a neo pro on Saxo-Tinkoff, and having excelled on this terrain as an under 23,  it will be interesting to see how he goes today in a class field.  How is his neo pro year going? “It’s going really well. I’ve finally settled in with the team.

    “I’m pretty excited to do this race and I have been for a while now. I hope it’s going to be good.
    We’ve got four or five guys that can hopefully be there at the end so. For me it makes sense to see how I feel and hopefully I can help out as much as I can.

    After this, he will “head home and then get ready for Turkey.”
     

  33. 12:12:50 CEST

    Who is doing most of the lead work in the chasing peloton? No surprise there.  Cannondale, who wants to put Sagan atop the podium, and homeland team Blanco, who wants to put Mollema on the stairs.

  34. 12:18:22 CEST

    Blanco DS Erik Dekker shared with us his thoughts on the changes to the course - “It could be a great move of Leo. With three really hard climbs in the last 20km, the best riders are in the front and if one or two gets away, it’s also one of the best riders. Now you have a possibility that a bigger group is coming and then you still have 80km to go for a race. Guys coming back after the Keutenberg, they already know that they’re not going to win. A lot of teams or riders will try to get away. I’m sure of that.

    “I really don’t know what the change of the parcours does. It’s 20km longer, let’s say that. The really steep climbs are 20km earlier and I’m not sure how the peloton will react on that. It will change it a little bit I think because it’s still 40km to go or something on big wide roads and a headwind on top of the Keutenberg and the Cauberg – it could be a bigger group. I think there is a good possibility that there will be a break in the last 20km which maybe can go to the end.”
     

  35. 12:24:09 CEST

    Dekker also had his thoughts on top favourite Peter Sagan. “Obviously Sagan is outstanding but I wonder if he does the local lap of 18km by himself in front of the group whether he’d still win? (laughs) I cannot imagine that. He cannot control the race by himself – but it looks like it. It depends a little bit on his team. When there are two or three teammates passing the Cauberg the second last time then we’re in trouble.”

  36. 12:27:03 CEST

    The rain has apparently stopped, and the temperature is shooting up to 18°C. That feels like summer heat after the long cold European winter.

  37. 12:28:49 CEST

    • Crash

    We have had a crash back in the field, involving Paul Martens (Blanco), Brian Blugac (Lotto-Belisol) and Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), but happily all are back up and going again.

  38. 170km remaining from 251km

    12:31:41 CEST

    Meanwhile the gap has crept back up to nearly 11 minutes.

  39. 12:33:06 CEST

    As we said, Jane Aubrey is at the race for us, and she just gave us this weather report and forecast: "Sitting on about 18 degrees here right now. blustery winds at the finish. While overcast, the rain should hold off, and as the race nears its conclusion, the temps will be closer to 21°C."

  40. 12:37:34 CEST

    I have brought you this far through the race, and am now ready to turn things over to Steve Farrand.

  41. 12:43:59 CEST

    The new route for this race includes 34 classified climbs, with lots more along the roller coaster route.

    The breakaway has just gone over the Wolfsberg climb., number 8 of 34. There's still a long way to go!

  42. 12:50:21 CEST

    The blustery wind and fighting for position is causing more crashes. This time Tosh van der Sande and Lotto Belisol teammate Brian Bulgaç took a tumble.  Both seem okay and back in the race.

  43. 12:56:14 CEST

    Peter Sagan's Cannondale team are leading the controlled chase of the breakaway.

    Sagan is the bookmaker's favourite and so bears the responsibility for chasing the break.

  44. 12:59:04 CEST

    Team NetApp-Endura is taking on Amstel for the first time.

    “In light of our new obligations, we have clearly toughened up for the classics. If we look at our latest races, it has already been worth it. We are in a considerably better position with this race and the guys’ form is improving all the time. We hardly dare hope for a victory, but we are in a position to play a deciding role in the race,” said a confident Jens Heppner.

    Heppner himself finished on the podium in this race – 20 years ago. Why was it his favourite race? “For me it was great that the race isn’t completely flat, but always goes up and down. I handled that well. The short, steep climbs are just my thing. Then there’s also the fact that I have lived here for many years. The Amstel is basically like my home race. I know every stone and every hole along the way.”
     

  45. 151km remaining from 251km

    13:06:33 CEST

    After 100km of racing, the gap between the break and the peloton, remains at 11 minutes.

  46. 13:18:32 CEST

    Asked about the most technical and dangerous parts of the course, Johnny Weltz (Garmin-Sharp sports director) had some warning words about the descent off the Cauberg after the finishing straight, the climb and descent which the riders tackle three times with the fourth ascent just two kilometres after the summit.

    “It’s a very fast drop down, and you’re going through a built up area, so that is very very difficult. Also there’s some straight away sections after that with a left turn over a bridge and it gets very narrow and technical again.” As for the race itself, Weltz confirmed that Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) will be
    one of the key contenders for his team in Amstel. “He climbs extremely well, he’s got a good sprint and after winning Catalunya his morale is really good and that can be what makes the difference. But we’ve got a team that make the race from beginning to end, and that counts too. Either way, we can’t all be sitting there waiting for [Peter] Sagan (Cannondale) and the final sprint.”
     

  47. 13:27:43 CEST

    Not surprisingly, Dutch riders have won this race more often than any other nationality. They have 17 wins, with Belgium at 11, Italy 6, Switzerland and Germany 3 each, France 2, and Denmark, Australia, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg and Russia one each.

    Philippe Gilbert has won this race twice, as have three other riders (Eddy Merckx, Gerrie Knettemann, and Rolf Jarmann). Only one rider has won it more times: Dutchman Jan Raas, who won it five times, in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1982.
     

  48. 125km remaining from 251km

    13:38:16 CEST

    We're halfway into the race now, with the riders tackling the Eperheide climb, number 15 of 34.

  49. 13:52:29 CEST

    The race speed has been constant but not super fast so far, with an average speed of 39.3km/h.

  50. 112km remaining from 251km

    14:02:10 CEST

    The peloton has awoken and slowly begun to reel in the breakaway. The gap is falling towards 10 minutes.

  51. 14:03:12 CEST

    Susan back in the driver's seat! Looks like not much happened while I was gone.

  52. 14:09:09 CEST

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale): Third in 2012 and 98th in 2011, Peter Sagan starts the race as the leading favourite and he was all but submerged in tv cameras and radio stations wanting his final impressions prior to starting the Amstel Gold, where he hopes to take the 48th win of his career and ninth of 2013.

    “I’m in good form, I had a good series of results before Amstel last year too, and my third place left me with a bad taste in my mouth, so we will have to see whether I can get up there and get the win itself,” Sagan said.

    “Looking at the rivals, it’s hard to say who can achieve what. But it’s good to start today with so many top results already achieved. Amstel Gold Race is another important objective for me though and the changes in the finale make it easier for everybody to attack. Amstel is much more open than the cobbled Classics, too and you have to be really alert. There are no resting spaces.”

  53. 14:11:08 CEST

    • Crash

    Peter Velits of Omega Pharma-QuickStep has crashed, but he is ok and quickly back in the peloton.

  54. 14:16:59 CEST

    Philippe Gilbert (BMC) drew one of the biggest cheers at the Grote Markt square in Maastricht this morning as he stood in the line-up for the team presentation with his BMC team-mates, wearing the rainbow jersey he had won at the same finish as Amstel Gold last September.

    “It’s difficult to name a rival, there are so many different options,” the former double Amstel winner told reporters after coming off the podium, “but I know it will be a very hard race, and I have to focus on what I can do, rather than doing anybody else’s race. The best thing is I know I can count on a strong team to support me, and  we have several cards to play, not just me. This whole week is important for me, but I’ve had a good result Wednesday so that will boost my morale.”

  55. 14:19:40 CEST

    Cannondale and Blanco continue to lead the peloton.

  56. 14:23:26 CEST

    Rigoberto Uran (Sky ProCycling) knows the route from the World’s circuit and says that it “changes things enormously that they’ve added in that extra part after the summit. It was already hard, and this will make it even more difficult. It’s going to be a real war.”

    Prominent as one of Sky’s top mountain climbers in Tirreno and Catalunya, Uran took a short break afterwards “and I’ve yet to really find out how good my condition is coming back from that. So I’ll be seeing how good I am for the rest of the Ardennes
    week as well.”

    As his director sportif Nicolas Portal told Cyclingnews yesterday, Uran confirmed that he, Sergio Henao, Vasil Kiryenka and Edvald Boasson Hagen will be Sky’s four key names in today’s race.
     

  57. 100km remaining from 251km

    14:25:33 CEST

    100km still to go , and the gap is at exactly 10 minutes.

  58. 14:31:09 CEST

    A bronze medallist in the World’s circuit at Valkenberg last year, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is feeling particularly motivated because Amstel is the one Ardennes Classic he has yet to win.

    “I’ve got good memories of this finish here, and I’m hoping I’ll have the same kind of luck here again this afternoon,” he told Cyclingnews at the start. “The circuit is a little bit harder than in the World’s, particularly because it comes after so many climbs early on, but I know how to tackle it, that’s for sure.”

    Of the three, Valverde says that Liege-Bastogne-Liege is the one which suits him the best. At Amstel he finished 22nd last year and his best result was third in 2008. He has won the Amstel Curacao end-of-season race, in 2006, but that isn’t quite the same thing...
     

  59. 14:32:04 CEST

    A big crash took down about 15 riders in the peloton, including Gilbert and Blanco's Laruens Ten Dam. Gilbert had to wait a long time for a new bike.

  60. 14:32:54 CEST

    Much of the peloton was forced to do a bit of 'cross riding, heading into the nearby field to get around the backup.

  61. 91km remaining from 251km

    14:34:08 CEST

    The gap is now 9:33. The peloton has splittered because of the crash. This is not good. Many riders all ove the place, trying to catch up, many team cars frantically trying to get to their riders, and all that on very narrow lanes. Not a good combination.

  62. 14:34:45 CEST

    We understand that Ten Dam is still down, and at this point we would assume he is not going to be getting back on his bike today.

  63. 14:35:13 CEST

    Andy Schleck is another of those who was caught up in or by the crash, and is working his way back up.

  64. 14:36:26 CEST

    Gilbert and Schleck are in fact fighting together to move back up to the peloton.

  65. 14:39:48 CEST

    The Gilbert group is now behind the Orica-GreenEdge car, but they have a way to go.

  66. 14:40:36 CEST

    Blanco now at the head of the peloton, and we see only one Cannondale. Did Sagan get caught, as well?

  67. 14:41:42 CEST

    The leaders hit the finish line once again, and with 85km to go, they have a gap of 8:13.

  68. 14:42:58 CEST

    Lars Boom is the Blanco rider who is forcing the pace of the front group, about 20-25 riders.

  69. 14:43:45 CEST

    The Gilbert group has caught up with another large group, but we are not sure if that is the first chase group or not.

  70. 14:44:40 CEST

    The gap continues to plumment, and the first chase group is at 7:25, with the peloton, including Gilbert and Schleck, at 7:55.

  71. 14:45:45 CEST

    BMC is leading the peloton, which looks rather large again.

  72. 14:47:36 CEST

    We don't have any official word on any injuries from the crash, but are hearing that at least one rider has been taken to hospital. We prefer to wait for official word on things like that.

  73. 14:48:47 CEST

    That rider who has gone to hospital is Thomas Voeckler of Europcar. We hope he is not seriously injured.

  74. 14:49:27 CEST

    We also hear that Laurens Ten Dam was able to get back on his bike and continue.

  75. 14:51:50 CEST

    The peloton looks to have caught the first chasing group. More or less at any rate. How will this affect the gap?

  76. 14:52:29 CEST

    And that is the cue for Cannondal to move back up to the front of things. They aren't willing to let the lead group stay away, that's for sure.

  77. 14:54:59 CEST

    Bram Tankink of Blanco drops back to the team car to pick up some bidons and gels.

  78. 14:57:15 CEST

    It has finally turned into a beautiful, sunny spring day.  At last!

  79. 77km remaining from 251km

    14:58:07 CEST

    The gap has dropped to 7:25, and the peloton is really streaking along at high speed.

  80. 15:00:37 CEST

    The peloton goes through the food zone, and stocks up for the hard kms to come.

  81. 15:05:34 CEST

    Veteran Movistar rider and breakaway specialist Pablo Lastras, who has been riding the Ardennes Classics for over a decade now, believes that the change in the route “gives greater chances to the outsiders. There could be all kinds of strategic
    developments you wouldn’t expect, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be one of the big names who gets the win for sure - Sagan, Rodriguez, Mollema or Valverde.”

    “Adding two kilometres in makes for a much more open race. It’s the kind of innovation that cycling needs to evolve and make it more interesting.”
    He doesn’t agree that Amstel serves as a starting point for the remainder of the Ardennes Classics. “Winning a race like Amstel is a huge victory in itself. I think today is like a World Championships, Fleche Wallone another, and Liege another. We won’t be holding anything back.” His own role will be “shadowing Alejandro, together with Imanol [Erviti] and as I know the route, keeping close to the front for the team.”

  82. 70km remaining from 251km

    15:07:28 CEST

    With 70 km to go, the gap has fallen to 6:30. That is the first positive sign that the group will probably be caught.

  83. 15:10:12 CEST

    The gap comes down, and now is 5:28, as Vansummeren leads the break group.

  84. 15:13:06 CEST

    Bauke Mollema will be leading Team Blanco this year, and hoping to improve on his tenth place finish. Team DS Erik Dekker told Cyclingnews that he is not real sure how things will go. “The guys are fit, they are full of morale, of course - the sunny weather and the home country - but it looks a lot better than last week. It's a different race of course. We had also two really sick guys but they are fit now again. But we are looking forward to tomorrow and are curious as to how it turns out."
     

  85. 15:14:18 CEST

    Sky's Kiryienka must have been involved in that crash, as his arm is fully smeared with blood.

  86. 65km remaining from 251km

    15:15:26 CEST

    With 65 km to go, the gap has dropped to under five minutes, to 4:52. And the chase work is being led by Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Movistar.

  87. 15:17:13 CEST

    Looks like Boom has done his work for the day, as he falls off the back of the field. He held the pace up high for a long time.

  88. 15:18:32 CEST

    Boom is wearing an unusual and to us, rather unattractive white helmet. It is apparently very aero, though.

  89. 15:22:02 CEST

    Just a reminder, this is our break group:  Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Alexandre Pliuschin (IAM), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), Arthur Van Overberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen), Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp), Klaas Sys (Crelan-Euphony) and Nicolas Vogondy (Accent Jobs-Wanty).


     

  90. 15:27:49 CEST

    Team Sky may not have made much of an impression so far in the Classics, but they hope to change that today. In fact, they have a three-pronged attack, with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao.

  91. 15:30:19 CEST

    Susan signing off, and handing things back to Steve, who will bring you in to the finish.

  92. 15:31:54 CEST

    As the speed picks up, riders are diving around road furniture to try and move up. Hey! Lets be careful out there!

  93. 15:34:06 CEST

    Up front Van Summeren, Astarloza and Pliuschin have opened a gap on the other riders in the break.

    While Katusha lead the chasing behind.

  94. 53km remaining from 251km

    15:35:23 CEST

    The trio up front are now going hard, as the gap falls to 3:20.

  95. 15:39:17 CEST

    Orica-GreenEdge is now on the front. The boys from down under are riding for Simon Gerrans. He's on form and showed at the recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

     

  96. 15:39:43 CEST

    The Ardennes Classics are one of the year's major goals for Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge. He already has three wins on the season, and he is ready to rock-and-roll today.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/gerrans-bid-for-amstel-gold-glory-backed-by-experience
     

  97. 15:40:30 CEST

    The next climb is the Gulpenerberg, climb number 26 of the day.

  98. 15:44:08 CEST

    Yet again, the riders are all over the road, jumping on the bike paths and then flicking back into the peloton as they fight for position before the climb.

  99. 15:45:20 CEST

    Up front Astarloza is going clear alone. That will surely be a blow for the chances of the break to stay away much longer.

  100. 15:46:06 CEST

    Crash!

  101. 15:46:44 CEST

    Purito is down and hurting.

  102. 15:47:11 CEST

    He is limping and in pain. His race could be over.

  103. 15:48:10 CEST

    Rodriguez is back on his bike but he's holding his left knee. His race is surely over.

  104. 15:49:27 CEST

    Micheal Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) was also caught up in the crash but seemed to get going again. 

  105. 43km remaining from 251km

    15:53:12 CEST

    Does Philippe Gilbert want to win today?

    Of course he does. And having won here last September at the Worlds, he thinks he can do it again.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/gilbert-looking-to-repeat-worlds-result-at-valkenburg
     

  106. 15:54:59 CEST

    It's time for the Kruisberg climb. The race is about to kick off!

  107. 40km remaining from 251km

    15:57:53 CEST

    There may not be many riders who will see the Ardennes Classics are more important than the Tour de France, but Jelle Vanendert of Lotto Belisol is one of them. He was second here last year, and while he hopes to do well again, he said that the new finish line “suits me less. Now on there will many more riders will be able to fight for victory, but the favourites remain the same: Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert."

    Read what Gilbert had to say here:  www.cyclingnews.com/news/vanendert-chasing-another-top-amstel-finish
     

  108. 16:00:36 CEST

    Here we go! Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) is on the attack, trying to split the race. 

  109. 32km remaining from 251km

    16:07:12 CEST

    Van Summeren is still chasing hard on the Fromberg but has little chance of catching Astarloza.

  110. 16:10:06 CEST

    Astarloza is on the Keutenberg climb, the steepest of the 34 climbs in today's race.

  111. 16:10:51 CEST

    Weening has danced past Van Summeren and Pliushin on the climb.

  112. 16:13:01 CEST

    The climb has reduced the main peloton to around 30 riders.

  113. 16:15:52 CEST

    Weening seems to be waiting for the chasers. Behind him are two riders from Blanco: Nordhaug and Tanner  plus Andrei Grivko (Astana). 

  114. 24km remaining from 251km

    16:21:23 CEST

    Astarloza is giving a big nudge up front. He is looking good and faces just one lap of the world championship circuit. The peloton is going to have to really up the pace if they want to fight for victory.

  115. 16:22:25 CEST

    Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) is in no-man's land, trying to get across to the chasers. 

  116. 16:25:02 CEST

    Astarloza starts the Cauberg, getin getting huge cheers from the beer-fueled crowd. He's suffering though.

  117. 16:25:34 CEST

    The chasers are just 50 seconds behind him now.

  118. 16:26:17 CEST

    Cunego is next at 1:18, with the BMC lead peloton just  behind. 

  119. 16:27:51 CEST

    The peloton has picked up Cunego on the Cauberg but other riders are going on the attack.

  120. 16:28:21 CEST

    Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) has a dig.

  121. 16:29:38 CEST

    Marcato and Caruso are with Kreuziger, going across to the chasers. But the main group is not far behind.

  122. 16:30:57 CEST

    Astarloza was hoping the chasers would come up to him. Instead they're being caught by riders from behind.

  123. 17km remaining from 251km

    16:33:35 CEST

    The chasers can see Astarloza and quickly sweep him up.

  124. 16:36:24 CEST

    Omega Pharma-Quick Step are trying to get into the action, with Velits chasing the riders up front. However the peloton is not letting them get away.

  125. 16:39:12 CEST

    They riders up front don't seem convinced they can stay away. A side wind is also slowing them.

  126. 12km remaining from 251km

    16:40:37 CEST

    This is still a very tactical race. The favourites are saving themselves for the final fireworks on the Cauberg.

  127. 16:43:01 CEST

    The peloton can almost seen the seven attackers now.

  128. 16:44:19 CEST

    But Nordhaug attacks on the climb. There are just 4 riders up front now.

  129. 16:46:21 CEST

    Hesjedal attacks from the peloton! He's trying to go across to the attackers  but it won't be easy.

  130. 16:46:50 CEST

    His heads is turned to one side as he suffers on a gradual climb.

  131. 16:47:36 CEST

    up front Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) has gone clear alone. He's got 50 metres on the other attackers.

  132. 16:48:20 CEST

    The peloton is running out of time but the race could all change on the Cauberg. This is a thriller.

  133. 6km remaining from 251km

    16:49:36 CEST

    Kreuziger is out of the saddle giving it everything.

  134. 16:50:44 CEST

    Hesjedal has got across to the break but it cost him dear.

  135. 3km remaining from 251km

    16:51:16 CEST

    We're on the decent to the foot of the Cauberg.

  136. 16:51:44 CEST

    Kreuziger could win this if he has a lead over the top. The chasers are watching each other.

  137. 16:52:14 CEST

    Ben Hermans (RadioShack) is trying to chase him alone. The peloton is 35 seconds behind.

  138. 16:52:47 CEST

    The peloton has swept up the attackers, with Gilbert going on the attack with Gerrans.

  139. 16:53:18 CEST

    Gilbert is trying to repeat his worlds attack. Gerrans is hanging onto his wheel, with Valverde.

  140. 16:53:55 CEST

    Kreuziger is over he top and trying to time trial to victory. If they hesitate behind, he can win.

  141. 16:54:12 CEST

    Gilbert has a gap on Valverde and Gerrans.

  142. 16:54:46 CEST

    Last km for Kreuziger!

  143. 16:55:01 CEST

    He's going to win alone!

  144. 16:55:26 CEST

    The Czech stage racer celebrates with his arms in the air!

  145. 16:55:43 CEST

    Sprint for second place.

  146. 16:57:36 CEST

    Gilbert won the sprint but for second place, ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

  147. 16:58:40 CEST

    It seems Valverde managed to edge Gilbert for second place. 

  148. 17:00:14 CEST

    Provisional results show Valverde second, with Gerrans third.

  149. 17:01:51 CEST

    However we're still waiting for confirmation of a top ten result.

  150. 17:07:25 CEST

    It was a close sprint finish for the podium places but results confirm Valverde took second, with Gerrans third. Gilbert was fourth after leading out the sprint.

  151. 17:09:26 CEST

    As Roman Kreuziger celebrates on the podium with a beer, we'll wrap up our live coverage of the race.

    We'll have a full race report, photo galleries and interviews on Cyclingnews very soon. Reporters Jane Aubrey and Alasdair Fotheringham are at the finish. 

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