As Icelandic volcanic dust continued to be scattered over Europe, Philippe Gilbert blew the dust from Omega Pharma-Lotto's 2010 season with a stunning win in the Amstel Gold Race.
His ferocious attack in the final 600 metres netted the Belgian team its first win of the year and Gilbert another Classics triumph following his stellar late-season run in 2009 during which he won the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, Giro del Piemonte and the Giro di Lombardia.
Cyclingnews photographers including Bettini, Fotoreporter Sirotti and Elmar Krings were on hand to capture all the action from the 45th edition of this beloved Classic, which showcases the picturesque Vaulkenburg region and the passion of Dutch cycling fans.
Katusha's Alexander Kolobnev (above) came agonisingly close to victory after a spirited late-race attack that sprung from a five-man selection in the final 11km. He was caught in the final kilometre by a fast-charging peloton.
Need visible proof of the passion for cycling that exists in Holland? Look no further than Maastricht on Amstel Gold Race day.
Warning: token windmill shot from Dutch race...
OK, so it doesn't look that hard, but you try riding the Cauberg (above) a few times in a peloton travelling at a hectic pace. Not easy... and explains why the bunch is so strung out.
The rolling terrain late in the Amstel Gold Race is perfect ground for big attacks and eventual winner Philippe Gilbert tried his best in the final 10km - his triumphant move came closer to the finish, however.
How good is this? Philippe Gilbert celebrates Omega Pharma-Lotto's first win of the 2010 season, further boosting his market value in the second year of his contract.
View the full Amstel Gold gallery.