Today the 44th edition of the Amstel Gold Race took place around Maastricht and Valkenburg in The Netherlands.
Sergei Ivanov (Katusha) won this Dutch classic before Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank).
The story of the race
When they exit Maastricht (where there were strangely very few people, especially compared to the start of Paris-Roubaix in Compiègne (photos)) four riders immediately quit the peloton, including Kristof Vandewalle (Topsport Vlaanderen), Reinier Honig (Vacansoleil) and Thierry Hupond (Skil-Shimano).
They didn't stay ahead for a long time but immediately afterwards a leading group of 5 riders was formed: Yukiya Arashiro (BBox Bouygues Telecom), Sergej Klimov (Katusha), Niki Terpstra (Milram), Rubens Bertogliati (Diquigiovanni) and Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano). Borut Bozic (photo, Vacansoleil) was the only rider who started the pursuit and he joined this leading group a short hour later. Their maximum lead was about 15 minutes and Caisse d'Epargne (Alejandro Valverde), Rabobank and Euskaltel-Euskadi thought that was too much. These teams thus accelerated in the peloton.
A group of about 17 riders, including Oscar Freire, started the pursuit just before Matthew Lloyd (Silence Lotto) and Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank) fell. They were both taken to the hospital. One of the big favourites, Frank Schleck, was laying on the ground without moving for a while before he started moving his left leg. He's at the hospital with a concussion.
Just before the leading group was taken back by the second group, Niki Terpstra (photo) attacked and tried to continue alone but a little bit later he was also taken back by a group of 7 riders who went for his pursuit.
Finally a leading group of four riders including Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Niki Terpstra (Milram), Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas) and Marcus Burghardt (Columbia High Road) remains. A little bit less than half an hour later they are also taken back and the peloton is thus completely back together.
A few minutes later a new leading group is formed when Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) attacks and he is joined by Michael Rogers (Columbia High Road) and Koen de Kort (Skil Shimano). Devenyns tries to break away again a bit later together with Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) but they also manage to keep ahead for a few kilometers only.
At 19 kilometers from the finish, Kreuziger tries again and 5 kilometers later Sergei Ivanov (Katusha) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) join him. At 12 kilometers from the finish, on the Keutenberg, the whole peloton is back together.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) gets away from the peloton and is joined by Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank) and Sergei Ivanov (Katusha).
Karsten Kroon and Sergei Ivanov finally sprint for the victory and the Russian rider, seventh last year, turns out to be the best at this sprint.
Last year's winner finished fifth.
The top 10 for this 44th Amstel Gold Race - in which no less than three teams (Katusha, Rabobank and Saxo Bank) have two or three riders - is as follows:
1/ Sergei Ivanov (Katusha)
2/ Karsten Kroon (photo, Saxo Bank)
3/ Robert Gesink (Rabobank)
4/ Philippe Gilbert (Silence Lotto)
5/ Damiano Cunego (Lampre NGC)
6/ Alexandr Kolobnev (Saxo Bank)
7/ Simon Gerrans (Cervélo Test Team)
8/ Nick Nuyens (Rabobank)
9/ Christian Pfannberger (Katusha)
10/ Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank)
Niki Terpstra (Milram) gets the Herman Krot prize.