Kolobnev's aggressive Amstel ride almost pays off

The official result sheet at the Amstel Gold Race shows that Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) finished in 22nd position, 1:11 behind winner Philippe Gilbert, yet the raw race statistics explain little of the Russian's aggressive ride.

Kolobnev made the key selection that formed over the Keutenberg climb, getting away with Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and teammate Serguei Ivanov.

When Gilbert was pulled back after an attack, Kolobnev went for it, accelerating hard through a corner and quickly opening a ten-second gap. He then put his cards on the table and fully committed to a lone attack with seven kilometres left to cover. He stayed away right to the foot of the Cauberg and went tantalisingly close to victory.

But the steep 800-metre climb often cracks any lone attacker and almost always favours the chasers, and that was the case yet again this year.

"We knew that Gilbert would be the strongest on the Cauberg and so we had to do something before the sprint. Ivanov had tried further out but we were both in the move, so it was right I tried," Kolobnev told Cyclingnews.

Kolobnev was swept up as the climb filled his legs with lactic acid and Gilbert began his powerful charge to the line. Kolobnev lost 1:11 in the final 600 metres of the race, but his bravery was recognized by the race organizers and he was awarded the Herman Krott Trophy, named after the creator of the Amstel Gold Race and awarded to the most aggressive rider.

"I think I attacked at the right point but I didn't have any information about the gap and wasn't sure what to do. I decided just to go for it and give it everything I could to stay away. I tried to look behind me a little but there was so many motorbikes behind me that I couldn't see the others riders and thought I had a chance of winning."

"I did everything I could before the Cauberg and it was difficult to keep going hard after that. I had nothing left when they caught me. It was a pity but I'm happy that I tried it. It could have come off and I'm an aggressive rider. I know I've lost more races than I've won with late attacks but I'll keep trying."

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