No one expected Telekom’s Alex Vinokourov to win Sunday’s 38th Amstel Gold Race. Least of all him. “I’ve never won a one-day race until today,” the 29-year-old Kazakh said after the finish. [nid:24206]That is, except for a criterium or two in post-Tour de France appearances. But a criterium is little league compared with the mega-status of a classic like Sunday’s. “I rode the last 80km of the course on Friday,” Vinokourov said. “I learned that you have to be at the front all the time. It’s very technical, turning, left, right, up, down, on very narrow roads.”

Photo gallery by Graham Watson

By John Wilcockson

With 5km remaining, Vinkourov gambles all... and wins.
With 5km remaining, Vinkourov gambles all… and wins.

Photo: Graham Watson

No one expected Telekom’s Alex Vinokourov to win Sunday’s 38th Amstel Gold Race. Least of all him. “I’ve never won a one-day race until today,” the 29-year-old Kazakh said after the finish.

Armstrong and Boogered
Armstrong and Boogered

Photo: Graham Watson

That is, except for a criterium or two in post-Tour de France appearances. But a criterium is little league compared with the mega-status of a classic like Sunday’s.

“I rode the last 80km of the course on Friday,” Vinokourov said. “I learned that you have to be at the front all the time. It’s very technical, turning, left, right, up, down, on very narrow roads.”

Casagrande attacks
Casagrande attacks

Photo:

When the race was at its most intense on this sunny Sunday afternoon in the green hills of Limburg, with 20km to go to the finish of the 251km Amstel Gold Race, Vinokourov was ready. On the 28th of 31 climbs, the narrow, twisting Eyserbosweg, the Kazakh was right at the front when former race winner Erik Dekker led out Rabobank teammate Michael Boogerd for a sharp acceleration that was followed by an impressively smooth Lance Armstrong. Vinokourov and Italian Davide Rebellin were the first to reply.

Over the next five tricky kilometers, Boogerd, Armstrong, Vinokourov and Rebellin were joined by 10 others before Lampre’s Francisco Casagrande made an impressive solo bid on a false flat, with 14km to go. The aggressive Casagrande took a 10-second lead into the crucial Keutenberg climb, where he was momentarily joined by fellow Italian Danilo Di Luca of Saeco and the surprising Spaniard Angel Vicioso of ONCE-Eroski, but as he continued to churn a massive gear, little Casagrande just muscled the other two off his wheel on the 22-percent grade.

On the Cauberg
On the Cauberg

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Over the top, Boogerd and Armstrong were the first to join the determined Lampre leader, but now on a narrow road across a flat plateau, they couldn’t prevent six other riders from joining them: Di Luca, Vicioso, Rebellin, Matthias Kessler of Telekom, Michele Scarponi of Domina Vacanze and Frank Bouyer of La Boulangère. Yes, Vinokourov missed the move, but he was making a strong solo chase — as was defending champion Michele Bartoli of Fassa Bortolo. Vinokourov made it, Bartoli didn’t.

Once together in the front group of 10, Telekom pair Vinokourov and Kessler had a quick conversation. “We decided that the finish on the hill was too steep for Matthias to use his sprint,” Vinokourov said, “so I had to make a move with about 5km to go.”

Vino's Victory
Vino’s Victory

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Catching the others by surprise, Vinokourov took an immediate 50-meter advantage after negotiating a series of turns in the village of Sibbe. Boogerd jumped hard in pursuit, but Armstrong was right on his wheel. The Dutchman slowed, then tried again. But his American shadow again thwarted the effort — while Vinokourov was moving 10 seconds clear as he slalomed his way down the Sibbergrubbe hill into Valkenberg. All that remained was the 750-meter–long Cauberg hill up to the line.

At the 1km-to-go sign, 15 seconds was the gap, although Vinokourov didn’t know it. “I just rode as hard as I could up the final climb,” he said. “I didn’t dare turn around. I knew some [official] cars had got into position behind me, but I didn’t know where the other [riders] were.”

The podium
The podium

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Those cars almost messed up the finish, virtually protecting Vinokourov as he crossed the line exhausted, while the sprint for second place was only four seconds back — with Boogerd taking it from Di Luca and Rebellin, right up the rear ends of the vehicles. Armstrong came home in eighth, eight seconds back.

The Texan wasn’t sure how he would perform after missing most of his last preparation race the Circuit de la Sarthe with a stomach virus. Now that he knows he is the equal of the best climbers in these spring classics, he may well go for the win next Sunday in the much longer hills of Liège-Bastogne-Liege.

To see how today’s race unfolded click here to follow today’s action with reports from VeloNews.com.

Photo Gallery

Results

1. VINOKOUROV,Alex (Kaz), Telekom, 06:01

2. BOOGERD,Michael (NED), RAB, 00:00

3. DI LUCA,Danilo (I), Saeco, 00:00

4. REBELLIN,Davide (I), Gerolsteiner, 00:00

5. KESSLER,Matthias (G), Telekom, 00:00

6. CASAGRANDE,Francesco (I), LAM, 00:00

7. SCARPONI,Michele (I), DVE, 00:00

8. ARMSTRONG,Lance (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 00:00

9. VICIOSO,Angel (Sp), Once – Eroski, 00:00

10. ASTORLOA,Igor (Sp), Saeco, 00:00

11. IVANOV,Serguei (Rus), Fassa Bortolo, 00:00

12. FARESIN,Gianni (I), Gerolsteiner, 00:00

13. DUFAUX,Laurent (Swi), ALS, 00:00

14. FREIRE,Oscar (Sp), RAB, 00:00

15. ZABEL,Erik (G), Telekom, 00:00

16. BARTOLI,Michele (I), Fassa Bortolo, 00:00

17. PAOLINI,Luca (I), Quick Step-Davitamon, 00:00

18. PASCUAL RODRIGUEZ,Javier (Sp), BAN, 00:00

19. VANDENBROUCKE,Frank (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 00:00

20. AERTS,Mario (B), Telekom, 00:00

21. BRUYLANDTS,Dave (B), MAR, 00:00

22. RASTELLI,Ellis (I), Gerolsteiner, 00:00

23. LUNGHI,Denis (I), ALS, 00:00

24. RUMSAS,Raimondas (LTU), LAM, 00:00

25. CELESTINO,Mirko (I), Saeco, 00:00

26. PEREIRO,Oscar (Sp), Phonak, 00:00

27. LE FEVRE,Laurent (F), Jean Delatour, 00:00

28. VAINSTEINS,Romans (LAT), VIN, 00:00

29. SERRANO,Marcos (Sp), Once – Eroski, 00:00

30. ROUS,Didier (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 00:00

31. CANADA,Gracia David (Sp), Quick Step-Davitamon, 00:00

32. SWEDA,Raphael (G), COA, 00:00

33. BASSO,Ivan (I), Fassa Bortolo, 00:00

34. SORENSEN,Nicki (Dk), CSC, 00:01

35. NOE,Andrea (I), ALS, 00:01

36. GIUNTI,Massimo (I), DVE, 00:01

37. MERCKX,Axel (B), Lotto-Domo, 00:01

38. OSA,Aitor (Sp), BAN, 00:01

39. WEGMANN,Fabian (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:02

40. SUNDERLAND,Scott (Aus), Fakta, 00:03

41. ZBERG,Beat (Swi), RAB, 00:03

42. JORGENSEN,Rene (Dk), Fakta, 00:03

43. LEUKEMANS,Bjorn (B), PAL, 00:03

44. EKIMOV,Viatchaslav (Rus), U.S. Postal Service, 00:03

45. ARVESEN,Kurt Asle (Nor), Fakta, 00:03

46. SACCHI,Fabio (I), Saeco, 00:03

47. HOJ,Frank (Dk), Fakta, 00:03

48. VASSEUR,Cedric (F), Cofidis, 00:03

49. ELMIGER,Martin (Swi), Phonak, 00:03

50. CLAIN,Mederic (F), Cofidis, 00:03

51. KOLOBNEV,Alexander (Rus), DVE, 00:03

52. MOOS,Alexander (Swi), Phonak, 00:03

53. BLAUDZUN,Michael (Dk), CSC, 00:03

54. VERHEYEN,Geert (B), MAR, 00:03

55. POSPEYEV,Kyrylo (Ukr), DVE, 00:03

56. DUMA,Volomidir (Ukr), LAN, 00:03

57. BOURQUENOUD,Pierre (Swi), Jean Delatour, 00:03

58. DE WAELE,Fabien (B), PAL, 00:03

59. SCHOLZ,Ronny (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:03

60. JAKSCHE,Jorg (G), Once – Eroski, 00:03

61. MATTAN,Nico (B), Cofidis, 00:03

62. BOUYER,Franck (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 00:03

63. LOTZ,Marc (NED), RAB, 00:03

64. VAN GOOLEN,Jurgen (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 00:03

65. BOLTS,Udo (G), Gerolsteiner, 00:03

66. MOERENHOUT,Koos (NED), Lotto-Domo, 00:03

67. PETROV,Eugeni (Rus), BAN, 00:03

68. WAUTERS,Marc (B), RAB, 00:03

69. PRONK,Matthe (NED), BBT, 00:03

70. PERDIGUERO,Martin (Sp), DVE, 00:03

71. JIMENEZ,Eladio (Sp), BAN, 00:03

72. LOWIK,Gerbem (NED), BBT, 00:03

73. SCIANDRI,Maximilian (GB), LAM, 00:03

74. POZZATO,Filippo (I), Fassa Bortolo, 00:03

75. BOSSONI,Paolo (I), VIN, 00:03

76. MAZZOLENI,Eddy (I), VIN, 00:03

77. BORTOLAMI,Gianluca (I), VIN, 00:03

78. ALDAG,Rolf (G), Telekom, 00:03

79. VERBRUGGHE,Rik (B), Lotto-Domo, 00:03

80. VAN PETEGEM,Peter (B), Lotto-Domo, 00:03

81. BAGUET,Serge (B), Lotto-Domo, 00:03

82. RODRIGUEZ,Fred (USA), VIN, 00:03

83. KLIER,Andreas (G), Telekom, 00:03

84. COMMESSO,Salvatore (I), Saeco, 00:03

85. MORENI,Christian (I), ALS, 00:03

86. PELLIZOTTI,Franco (I), ALS, 00:03

87. MARZOLI,Ruggero (I), ALS, 00:03

88. KIRCHEN,Kim (Lux), Fassa Bortolo, 00:04

89. GUTIERREZ,Iban (Sp), BAN, 00:04

90. FERRIGATO,Andrea (I), ALS, 00:05

91. IVANOV,Ruslan (MDA), ALS, 00:05

92. HAUPTMAN,Andrej (SLO), VIN, 00:05

93. PIIL,Jacob (Dk), CSC, 00:05

94. FOFONOV,Dimitri (Kaz), Cofidis, 00:05

95. SHEFER,Alexander (Kaz), Saeco, 00:05

96. AZEVEDO,Jose (P), Once – Eroski, 00:05

97. HOFFMAN,Tristan (NED), CSC, 00:05

98. VIERHOUTEN,Aart (NED), Lotto-Domo, 00:07

99. SCHMITZ,Bram (NED), BBT, 00:07

100. SCHLECK,Frank (Lux), CSC, 00:07

101. HIEMSTRA,Bert (NED), BBT, 00:07

102. VAN DE VELDE,Christian (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 00:07

103. VAN HEESWIJK,Max (NED), U.S. Postal Service, 00:07

104. GOUGOT,Fabrice (F), Phonak, 00:07

105. HERAS,Roberto (Sp), U.S. Postal Service, 00:07

106. KUPFERNAGEL,Stefan (G), Phonak, 00:07

107. MUSEEUW,Johan (B), Quick Step-Davitamon, 00:07

108. MILESI,Marco (I), VIN, 00:07

109. RUND,Torsten (G), COA, 00:07

110. RIGHI,Daniele (I), LAM, 00:07

111. FLECHA,Juan (Sp), BAN, 00:07

112. STREMEERSCH,Tom (B), LAN, 00:08

113. DE GROOT,Bram (NED), RAB, 00:08

114. CORTONOVIS,Alessandro (I), LAM, 00:08

115. DE JONGH,Steven (NED), RAB, 00:08

116. JOACHIM,Benoit (Lux), U.S. Postal Service, 00:08

117. CHRISTENSEN,Bekim (Dk), COA, 00:08

118. ZANINI,Stefano (I), Saeco, 00:08

119. CHAVANEL,Sylvain (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 00:08

120. STRAUSS,Marcel (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 00:08

121. MAGNIEN,Emmanuel (F), Brioches La Boulangere, 00:08

122. VAN LANDEGHEM,Kurt (B), LAN, 00:08

Individual World Cup Standings, after four rounds

1. Peter Van Petegem (B) – 200 points

2. Dario Pieri (I) – 117

3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kz) – 100

4. Paolo Bettini (I) – 100

5. Michael Boogerd (Nl) – 90

6. Mirko Celestino (I) – 86

7. Serguei Ivanov (Rus) – 79

8. Frank Vandenbroucke (B) – 77

9. Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) – 74

10. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) – 63

11. Luca Paolini (I) – 59

12. Fabio Baldato (I) – 55

13. Erik Zabel (G) – 54

14. Danilo Di Luca (I) – 50

15. Fr?d?ric Guesdon (F) – 46

16. Nico Mattan (B) – 43

17. Davide Rebellin (I) – 40

18. Oscar Freire (Sp) – 40

19. Marc Wauters (B) – 40

20. Romans Vainsteins (Lat) – 40

21. Mario Cipollini (I) – 40

22. Matthias Kessler (G) – 36

23. Andrea Tafi (I) – 36

24. Francesco Casagrande (I) – 32

25. Bernhard Eisel (A) – 30

Others:

29. Lance Armstrong (USA) – 24

35. Michele Bartoli (I) – 20

42. Damien Nazon (F) – 13

47. Nicolas Portal (F) – 10



Overall Team Standings

1. Saeco (I) – 33 points

2. Quick Step (B) – 26

3. Telekom (G) – 24

4. Fassa Bortolo (I) – 24

5. fdjeux.com (F) – 20

6. Rabobank (Nl) – 17

7. Alessio (I) – 16

8. Lampre (I) – 10

9. Gerolsteiner (G) – 8

10. La Boulangiere (F) – 8

11. Marlux (B) – 7

12. Sidermec (I) – 7

13. U.S. Postal (USA) – 6

14. Cofidis (F) – 6

15. Domina Vacanze (I) – 5

16. Lotto (B) – 5

17. ONCE (Sp) – 2

18. AG2R (F) – 2

19. Coast (G) – 1

20. Phonak (Swi) – 1