In contrast to the miserable weather that we saw the Spring Classics begin with, the Amstel Gold Race was a perfect start to the Ardennes opener. The honors went to the 26 year old Saxo-Tinkoff rider from the Czech Republic, Roman Kreuziger. Out of all the names we tipped before the race, Kreuziger was one who wasn't on anyone's radar. It was the first time the former winner of the young rider jerseys at both the Tour de France and Tour of Italy, has won a Classic. Here is the story of the 2013 edition of Amstel Gold Race in photos.
Looking above the start of Amstel Gold Race in the city square of Maastricht, Netherlands
Andy Schleck gets interviewed and photographed before the start of the race
The riders are off…
The peloton passes the Hubertsmill on the end of the Adsteeg climb in Klein Genhout
Johan Vansummeren (Garmin Sharp) was the first man to attack, and joined by Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Alexandre Pliuschin (IAM), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), and Arthur Van Overberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen). They were later joined by Nicolas Vogondy (Accent Jobs) and Klaas Sys (Crelan-Euphony). By the halfway mark, the breakaway had an 11 minute lead on the peloton.
(left) We saw an incredibly strong Michal Kwiatkowski at Tour of Flanders a few weeks ago, and he had another great race at Amstel Gold. He was able to stay near the front of the key climbs rode to a 4th place finish – his first top 10 of a single day Classics race.
The peloton climbs the Cauberg
Just before the peloton hit the Cauberg for the second time, a large crash brought down a number of riders including Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Rui Costa (Movistar) and Andy Schleck (RadioShack Nissan). Schleck ended up abandoning and Gilbert, two time winner, battled on to get 5th place. Voeckler suffered a broken collarbone.
Lars Boom (Blanco) – Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quickstep)
Cannondale and Blanco controlling the pace up the climb
Damiano Cunego (left) won Amstel Gold in 2008, but he couldn’t do better than 43rd this year. He said after the race, “As usual, Amstel Gold Race is a very nervous race and you must be at the top of the shape to be competitive – Cunego pointed out, revealing that – I was not at the top, I understood it during the race, so I tried to anticipate my move. The result of this action was not good, so I’m not satisfied”. Edvald Boassan Hagen was another possible contendor for the Amstel win, but he DNF’d
Niki Terpstra had a good showing at Paris-Roubaix last weekend with a third place and went in as the Omega Pharma-Quckstep leader, but came away with a DNF
Peter Sagan was tipped as being the favorite after his dominant win last week at Brabantse Pijl, but he came in 36th. He said that cramps and lack of strength possibly because of the warm weather was bothering him: “I felt rough, about 30 to 40 kilometres to go,” Sagan told reporters afterwards. “It wasn’t ideal but there wasn’t anything I could do, I was cramping up.” “When [Philippe] Gilbert (BMC) attacked, I wanted to follow him, but it simply wasn’t possible. I didn’t have the strength to do it.” “I think was because it was a warm day. In last two months I always raced with low temperatures, today my legs suffered in the change of the weather.”
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin – Sharp) making a huge effort to leap across the gap to the breakaway
Roman Kreuziger in the small breakaway moments before he attacked and stayed away for the win
Kreuziger attacks the breakaway group with 7km remaining. Since Contador decided not to start Amstel, Kreuziger was Saxo’s lead rider. This was his only chance to get a Spring Classics win and he went for it.
Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE) attacks with about 40km to go up the Eyserbosweg and leads the small breakaway who joined including David Tanner, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Astana’s Andriy Grivko and later Kreuziger. The breakaway held off until the bottom of the Cauberg 2km from the finish and were finally caught by the chasing peloton.
Ben Hermans (Radioshack Leopard) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) in the lead group up the Cauberg for the final ascent
Gilbert attacks at the base of the Cauberg with Gerrans in tow.
Roman Kreuziger only a few hundred meters before the finish line to take his first Amstel Gold Race
Gilbert lead out from the bottom of the Cauberg (from the same place as he won the World Championships in 2012) and nearly made it home for second, but Valverde overtook him in the final meters and Gerrans pushed hard for third. This is both Valverde’s and Gerrans’ second time coming in third at Amstel.
Andy Schleck (Radioshack Leopard) still chipping away at trying to regain his form. When the peloton hit the Cauberg the second time, Schleck came down in a crash with Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Laurens Ten Dam (Blanco), Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Rui Costa (Movistar) and eventually abandoned. This was the fifth race he’s DNF’d this season.
The Podium: 2nd: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) – 1st: Roman Kreuziger (Saxo Bank – Tinkoff) – 3rd: Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEDGE)
As per tradition, those on the podium rehydrate themselves with a pot of Amstel.