Archive for April, 2009
The gesture he made as he crossed the line for his third Flèche Wallonne title said it all: pointing to his head before pumping his fist exuberantly, Davide Rebellin demonstrated that he won not just with his legs, but by riding the smartest finale of the race.
“I knew I had to continue to finish off the great work by my team,” said the 37-year-old Rebellin. “I thought I would have good feelings and I did, I won. It might just be be the best of my three wins.”
The Mur de Huy‘s punishing 1300 metres favors those who can be patient and time their efforts to maximum effect. Silence-Lotto’s Cadel Evans knows that now, after he led the field in pursuit of Frenchman David Le Lay (Agritubel) for the better part of a kilometre only to hit the wall at 200m to go. Le Lay will take note as his attack at the base of the climb was brilliantly strong, but ill-timed.
Rebellin, perfectly positioned in third behind Evans and Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) bided his time as Le Lay was caught. He let Evans set a furious pace, then made his charge just as the Australian blew and easily sprinted to the victory ahead of Schleck. Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) slipped past Evans to claim third and fourth.
“I did not want to be too explosive right away, that is why at the bottom of the climb you saw Nicki Sørensen pulling,” explained Schleck. “Cadel went too early and we were able to get on his wheel, at that point there was a lull in speed and I would have preferred it remained at a high speed.”
Cunego found himself a bit too far back on the steepest part of the climb, but was pleased to have battled back to make the podium. “When we were at 500 metres it got really tough. Those who did not have the legs faded and those who had the legs fought. Through that tough S-turn at 300 metres, I lost a little bit of ground on Schleck and Rebellin. Amstel was a bit unlucky, but I am happy for today.”
For his part, Evans was happy with his fifth place. “I didn’t feel well at all today so I am quite surprised at the result,” said Evans. He attacked at the côte de Bousalle with 22km to go, trying to set up his teammate Philippe Gilbert.
“Since I didn’t feel well, I told the team that they shouldn’t be riding for me and we would go for Gilbert today.” Evans was then asked if the attack came too early and he should have saved his energy for the final climb up the Mur. “Funny, usually people tell me I don’t attack…”
1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli 4.42.15 (41.56 km/h) 2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0.02 3 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C. 4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0.07 5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto 6 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Team Columbia - Highroad 7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0.11 8 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Cervelo Test Team 9 Michael Albasini (Swi) Team Columbia - Highroad 10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0.15
Milram, Quick Step, Silence-Lotto, Saxo Bank, Caisse d’Epargne, Euskaltel, Garmin, Columbia, AG2R-La Mondiale, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Cofidis, Française des Jeux, Lampre-NGC, Liquigas, Astana, Rabobank and Katusha make up the ProTour teams list.
Team Katusha 131 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) 132 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) 133 Pavel Brutt (Rus) 134 Nikita Eskov (Rus) 135 Serguei Klimov (Rus) 136 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) 137 Christian Pfannberger (Aut) 138 Ben Swift (GBr) 139 *Alexander Serov (Rus) 140 *Maxime Vantomme (Bel)
Ivanov finally wins his “favourite race”
He’s threatened with Ardennes assaults in the past but today Serguei Ivanov made good on the promise shown and won a dramatic Amstel Gold Race. While it was a dream come true for the Russian, it served as Team Katusha’s most significant triumph to date.
The former Astana rider capitalised on a flourish of activity during the latter part of the race to take his place in a three-man group nearing the finish. With a charging peloton hot on their heels, it was then a matter of surviving out front and fighting out the sprint.
Ivanov out-sprinted Saxo Bank’s Karsten Kroon in the uphill sprint as the duo left Rabobank’s Robert Gesink behind on the final climb of the Cauberg, with the lanky Dutch rider rolling in for third.
Despite having won a Tour de France stage Ivanov claimed the Amstel title was, “the biggest win of my career. This is my favourite race and over the past ten years I have always done well here.” best finish had been second in 2002. “Today the team worked very hard for me, I am very thankful to them.”
The race was overshadowed by a serious crash involving Saxo Bank’s Fränk Schleck and Silence-Lotto’s Matthew Lloyd. Both were taken to hospital, but first reports indicated no serious injuries.
Tom Boonen stamped his name into history with a magnificent third victory in Paris-Roubaix thanks in part to an uncanny ability to avoid crashes in the critical final kilometres, as well as his trademark power on the cobbles. He joined fellow Belgians Eddy Merckx, Johan Museeuw and Rik Van Looy on the list of riders who have won the “Hell of the North” three times.
“As a performance I rate this as high as my first win in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, possibly even higher,” said an elated Boonen after the win.
“With all the crashes today, it was very hard, it took time for the last break to take shape. After Arenberg, I had a puncture and took another bike, I did not feel too well at that stage but in the finale, the others looked even worse while I kept the momentum.”
The Quick Step star was in a lead group of six favourites which included a surprise appearance by Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam), along with Leif Hoste, Johan Van Summeren (Silence-Lotto), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha). The six worked together until an unbelievable string of events unfolded with 30km to go which clearly demonstrated that Boonen was riding under a lucky star.
Boonen’s first Easter miracle came when he followed an attack by Hushovd. The pair were fortunate to hold a few metres advantage coming into sector four of the pavé, Le Carrefour de l’Arbre, as the gods of Paris-Roubaix were about to smote the chasing quartet.
Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) repeated last year’s victory in almost identical style, soloing away in the final kilometres for his second consecutive win the Vlaanderens Mooiste. The 29-year-old Belgian dropped his breakaway companions on the penultimate climb of the day, the legendary cobbled Muur of Gramont, and from then on, he raced to glory on the roads toward the finish in Meerbeke. While crossing the line, Devolder gestured in honor of his recently deceased friend and fellow racer Frederik Nolf. “This is unbelievable. I’ve lived up to this race for so long and I encountered a lot of bad luck,” said Devolder. I worked hard with all the people that kept believing in me. I said I would win and I did it.” “It was very weird race. I was able to join [Tom] Boonen (Quick Step) and [Filippo] Pozzato (Team Katusha) after the Berendries, and then I pulled through toward the leaders. I recovered, and on the Muur, I played my last card,” said Devolder. “I’m planning to stay focused on this race during the next few years as the Ronde van Vlaanderen remains the most important race of the year for me,” said Devolder. An aggressive Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) anticipated the final sprint and escaped from the large chase group on the finishing straight to finish second. The bunch sprint was won by Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto). Pozzato and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin – Slipstream) followed to finish fourth and fifth. “I didn’t have the legs today,” said Haussler. “In the end I was going to ride for Thor, but he told me to attack, so I went.” After the race, favorite Boonen explained that racing for the victory wasn’t possible for the day since the other top favorite, Pozzato, wasn’t chasing any other wheel than his. “The shadow,” Boonen described Pozzato. “Everybody saw that we were killing each other. I couldn’t drop him, and he couldn’t drop me. When we attacked, we distanced everybody, but he didn’t want to continue. So for me, the door was closed, but it opened the door for Stijn and Sylvain (Chavenel).” “Boonen was the strongest, compliments to the Quick Step team,” said Pozzato.