Na Nog drie ronden...
But it might as well be the bell lap. Let's face it, if the chasing pack doesn't start reeling in RubesandBabes now, they're not going to catch him. Rubes has played it down the middle, picking Philippe Gilbert to win pretty much every race and counting on being right, or close enough, to consistently score points. It's not a bad strategy, as you can see.
Others have picked up on it, however. Both StevieDexter and FrenchKheldar are salvaging their honor with a Phil-Gil pick of their own in the Brabant Arrow, and are playing the Thor Hushovd/Juan Antonio Flecha roles here, content to match the leader and joust for second place, rather than risking an attack. It's the smart play, with Millsy and EdBrowny nipping at their heels for the remaining podium spots -- albeit through the questionable strategy of also picking the same winner. JSallee plays the suicide attacker with his Martens pick, while Margin Walker just commits suicide with his Quadel Evans pick. Read your fanshots, MW.
Amstel Gold Race
|Edredon Browny||Philippe Gilbert||Damiano Cunego||Frank Schleck||0||11|
|Millsy 89||Philippe Gilbert||Joachim Rodriguez||Greg Van Avermaet||0||11|
|KOM Vuelta||Philippe Gilbert||Robert Gesink||JOhnny Hoogerland||0||5|
|Rubesandbabes||Philippe Gilbert||Robert Gesink||Ryder Hesjedal||0||24|
|JSallee||Paul Martens||Philippe Gilbert||Greg Van Avermaet||0||10|
|Popup Rolen||Philippe Gilbert||Damiano Cunego||Rinaldo Nocentini||0||7|
|FrenchKheldar||Philippe Gilbert||Damiano Cunego||Alexandr Vinokourov||0||14|
|Margin Walker||Cadel Evans||Philippe Gilbert||Damiano Cunego||0||5|
|Dan Beringhele||Philippe Gilbert||Robert Gesink||Sammy Sanchez||0||7|
|Stevie Dexter||Philippe Gilbert||Alexandr Vinokourov||Robert Gesink||0||14|
|Gavia||Philippe Gilbert||Damiano Cunego||Sylvain Chavanel||0||3|
|Chris F||Damiano Cunego||Robert Gesink||Danilo DiLuca||0||8|
The Amstel Appetizer
By Millsy 1989
Amstel Gold. In theory the best tasting of all the lagers, with it's smooth nectar and good looking colour, but something about Amstel leaves me a bit dissatissifed. Just like the classic actually.
The history of the race is well known, but for those who may not know, the race began in 1966, and was designed to weave to and from the Amstel brewery's around the Netherlands. The fearsome Jan Rass holds the record for most wins with 5, and the winners list is illustrious, with names such as Merckx, Maertens and Mueseew scattered throughout it's life. Lumped together with Fleche and L-B-L, it goes down in every cycling fans mind as being in "Ardennes week". Which would be fine, if Amstel wasn't predominitely in the Limburg region, which is a long way away from the Ardennes.
Still, the terrain is very similar, with lots of little sharp climbs, on small roads, which one by one are fine for all the riders, but eventually legs will get tired. The reason this race leaves me disatissfied like the beer? What happens during the 259kms preceeding the finishing km up the Cauberg makes no difference what so ever to the race. Apart from tiring out a few legs.
In all honesty, this race is just a time trial sprint up the Cauberg. But PhilGil excels here. Which makes me happy. He's the lemonade tops that makes the beer go down faster, so to speak. Everytime I watch last year's finale, the more and more impressive it is. I can't see past him for today, the only thing that could stop him is falling of the form his shown through the seasn so far.
As for second, well, J-Rod's my man, it's the sort of finish that suits him, but I think he's lost a little bit of that explosiveness in the hunt to find consistancy in the high mountains for the Vuelta, only time will tell. Looked really good during Pais Vasco as well. GVA's my pick for third, strong men sprinters as GVA was have always done well here (Well, Zabel won here), and he's definitely a man for the classics, riding stronger and stronger each year, and has been a key member of the Belgian WC squad for a few years now, all of which have been a bit climby. So yeah, a decent sprint on him, and the strength to sustain it up the Cauberg.
I'll be watching. But it won't be with an Amstel Gold.