2. Fleche Wallone

If you want to know how the race went, that's the right link: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/74th-la-fleche-wallonne-his/results Living a race at the arrival or on a climb isn't the best way to understand it but for sure it's the best way to feel it, to share the emotion of supporters and cycling fans who convert roads and fields in parties and picnics but are serious and moved about the drama of fighting for the victory, for a place in the history or on the podium, or about a crash.
In Classics specially that feeling is great. I couldn't belive to be on the mythical Mur d'Huy, seen so many times in tv! Climbing it also on feet is really hard and then you can understand a bit the awful effort it takes by riders, moreover at the end of such a stressing competition. Dudes, I almost couldn't breathe! An
d it was very very cold that day, fortunately for us (not for Andy and Frank).
On the top of the climb, at the finish, we found th
e 'avant-garde' of the Schleck Fanclub, already placed at the barriers in the best point, and after a while the Fanclub bus arrived and a true military occupation begane, with flags, chairs, food and drink supplies - drink specially: champagne for a start and then beer to warm up souls and bodies. I told you it was cold: don't belive me! it was fucking freezing! and it would been a long day.
I am a member of the Fanclub since two years but that was the first time I really saw them: they are amazing! I can't list all the nice men
and women (...and guys, girls and children of course) that I met in Huy and moreover in Houfalize on Sunday. I'll tell you that I finally talked in person with some fb friends from the Schleck family and had my good pic with Dad. I also had a pic with Steve, but as he's too tall - or I'm too small - we couldn't fit in the same frame, so I went up a bench :)
Some hours later benches were crowded of peo
ple standing and up trying to see something on the big screan over the heads of the others hundreds standing up on the lawn. Honestly we saw few and understood less, but it was extremely nice siting on the table side to side with Steve yelling each times the speacker said the name of Andy, Frank or Laurent Didier.
"It was a good situation, I gave it a go and it didn't work out - it happens, " he [Andy] told Cyclingnews immediately after crossing the finish line in Huy" [http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/saxo-bank-strong-but-schlecks-fall-short-at-fleche] and yes, it really was, with Frank in a breack and Andy so strongly leading the peloton on the second passage on the Mur. We were excited and happy. But ok, it didn't work. As far as Frank is concerned, in the breack there wasn't a good agreement and all the job was on him and Roman Kreuziger. About Andy it's more difficult to say what exactely didn't work. Attacking in Huy he looked in a splendid shape but obviously he lacked something in the finish...
Evans won, Rodriguez showed a great strenght and Contador his unquestioned class, even if he wasn't so happy with his 3th place. Andy ended 9th, Frank only 42th - but he was in the breack for a long time. K.Kroon badly crashed but now he's already ok. It was afraing seeing him with his face covered in blood anyway...
The team bus was too far so we went
back to our car and then back home to Ettelbruck. "See you on Sunday!" Steve said.
[Pic 1 are by P.Feltgen, pics 2 and 5 are by P.Kalmes, pic 3, 4 and 6 are by me.]

1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 4:39:24
2 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana
4 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:06
5 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:00:09
6 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:11
7 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack
8 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
9 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions
11 Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - Columbia
12 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
13 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
14 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Française Des Jeux
15 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:00:19
16 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
17 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
18 Daniel Martin (Can) Garmin - Transitions
19 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne 0:00:24
20 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
21 Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française Des Jeux
22 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne
23 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:00:27
24 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Team Radioshack
25 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Team Radioshack
26 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 0:00:32
27 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
28 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia
29 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team
30 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale
31 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:36
32 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia
33 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
34 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia 0:00:39
35 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:00:41
36 Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:00:42
37 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
38 Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:00:45
39 Rémi Cusin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
40 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
41 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:47
42 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
43 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
44 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radioshack
45 John Gadret (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
46 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram
47 Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervelo Test Team 0:00:53
48 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin - Transitions 0:00:56
49 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet
50 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
51 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Milram
52 Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia
53 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
54 Juan Jose Oroz (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
55 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne
56 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team
57 Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Cervelo Test Team
58 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank
59 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:01:03
60 Francesco Failli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
61 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux
62 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:01:06
63 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:01:07
64 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
65 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto
66 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
67 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
68 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
69 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step
70 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:01:14
71 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank
72 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne 0:01:19
73 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:01:24
74 Steven Cummings (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
75 Dominique Nerz (Ger) Team Milram 0:01:29
76 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha
77 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
78 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
79 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step
80 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:01:36
81 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
82 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
83 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
84 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank
85 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions
86 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team
87 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
88 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
89 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
90 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:01:44
91 Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:02:05
92 Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:02:23
93 Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:02:30
94 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:02:39
95 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:03:02
96 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:04:23
97 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana 0:05:23
98 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Astana
99 André Steensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
100 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
101 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha
102 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team
103 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step
104 Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
105 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Rabobank
106 Bart Dockx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
107 Stéphane Auge (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne 0:05:28
108 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
109 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana 0:05:31
110 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:07:51
111 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne
112 Mickaël Buffaz (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne 0:08:10
113 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step
114 Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:08:15
115 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank 0:08:21
116 Blel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:55
117 Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo Bank
118 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank 0:11:00
119 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team
120 Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia
121 Craig Lewis (USA) Team HTC - Columbia
122 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux
123 Christian Meier (Can) Garmin - Transitions 0:11:42
124 Serguei Klimov (Rus) Team Katusha
125 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
126 Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
127 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
128 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
129 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
130 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Androni Giocattoli
131 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
132 Paolo Ciavatta (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 0:11:48
133 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne 0:11:51
134 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:11:54
135 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:11:56
136 Francis De Greef (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
137 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram
138 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo TestTeam
139 Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
140 Reinier Honig (Ned) Acqua & Sapone
141 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 0:12:00
142 Benjamin Gourgue (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:12:12
DNF Fabrice Piemontesi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNF Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram
DNF Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des Jeux
DNF Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin - Transitions
DNF Trent Lowe (Aus) Garmin - Transitions
DNF Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions
DNF Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Astana
DNF Thomas Bertolini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNF Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Androni Giocattoli
DNF Artur Gajek (Ger) Team Milram
DNF Luca Solari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNF Anthony Charteau (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom
DNF Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
DNF Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
DNF Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas-Doimo
DNF Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, le Credit en Ligne
DNF Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Damiano Margutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNF Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Katusha
DNF Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
DNF Jonas Jorgensen (Den) Saxo Bank
DNF Aitor Galdos Alonso (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi
DNF Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team
DNF Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNF Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF Christophe Brandt (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
DNF José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
DNF Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram
DNF Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram
DNF Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha
DNF Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator
DNF Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step
DNF Francesco Reda (Ita) Quick Step
DNF Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step
DNF Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Team Radioshack
DNF Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team Radioshack
DNF Kjell Carlström (Fin) Sky Professional Cycling Team


1. Old fashion traveling and spring in Luxembourg

I don't know about you, but when my internet connection crashes I feel as if I have been sending back to the past in a small isolated village somewhere in a suddenly too big world. My forced train trip across half Europe was a bit the same. I mean, there is nothing wrong in traveling by train, I like it, it's ecological, relaxing, interesting because you meet different people and see different countries. Ok. But belive me, more then 10 hours in a train is a lot, especially when you aren't so sure to reach your destination, railstations and coaches are extra crowded by people coming from esotics places with big big suitcases desperately trying to go back home on feet and you put at the last minute some extra clothes in your luggage first prepared for 4 days knowing that you'll be around for a week at least. I was lucky anyway: I only came from Italy and simply had to go to Luxembourg, and I kind of knew where I was going to sleep that night. On my last train, Basel-Luxembourg, I met and solidarized with an Australian guy arrived in Miland from Turkey and heading for South Corea. I really hope he is there now but wonder in which condition he arrived...
I personally was REALLY tyred when arrived in Ettelbruck and met my guest Pascale and his family. I had ate something (it was around 9pm), took a shower and went to sleep. The day after was Fleche day so we had to wake up early... But I'll tell you about races in another post. In Huy it was cold, but in the next days in Luxembourg and also in Liège spring exploded and it was really sunny and hot.
Given that I had to stay a week in Luxembourg, seized the opportunity to meet some friends: first of all Joe, who lives in Ettelbruck, then Carina, who is a Dane but is working in Luxembourg, of course my big friend Georges Noesen and his nice family and finally Linda, who probably is my best friend even if it's a bit complicated having your best friend in Differdange when you are living in Florence. But if my internet connection is working we are all in the same small-global village and you feel far away only on saturday night when people invite you to a barbecue...

I'm sorry I couldn't meet my friends in Holland as planned before that volcano stuff but I always feel at home in Luxembourg and that time specially, because I wasn't in an hotel but at home with a very nice family. I visited Ettelbruck - it was all white in snow the last time I was there -, the wonderful castel of Viaden http://www.castle-vianden.lu/ and of course the City again because you never finsh to discover it.
On the way back, by train again, I stoped in Luzern for one night, visiting Marika -thanks! -, a friend from Italy who studied wit
h me and now lives there as too many Italians looking for a job - or also for 'their' job. I was glad to meet her but so sorry to leave from Luxembourg that I cryed like a baby. I already missed you so bad..... but kept in me the deep joy to have met you properly that time.
Pics by me


I'm back (baby) !

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm back and have so many pictures and amazing memories that it will take a while to me to post something here. Sorry, not all... but special moments are like a writing on your skin, so intense but soon disapearing, or like a precious message on a paper, that you must keep with care and can't pass from hand to hand without geting spolied. So please give me a moment to download my pictures and to write an honest but forcedly incomplete resume of my adventures. But first of all I want to thank all my friends in Luxembourg, specially my guest Pascale and his wonderful family, Ed Buschette and his wife Antoinette, the Schleck family and of course the Schleck fanclub: you are as crazy as me, dudes, so I felt at home among you!!
Pic by Serge Waldbillig (I am on the balcony with the white hat).


I leave tomorrow...

...see you in Luxembourg, Fleche and Liège.
Nice pics of Schlecks here:

Amstel...a pic more


Amstel: article by Le Quotidien


CYCLISME: Bien le bonjour de Gilbert...

image Auteur d'un démarrage fulgurant dans les derniers hectomètres, Philippe Gilbert était bien le plus fort, hier. (Photo: ap)

AMSTEL GOLD RACE Le Belge n'a pas raté le coche en choisissantd'attendrel'ascension finale pour se détacher. Auparavant, il n'avait pas manqué de «filer» Andy Schleck.

Malgré une nouvelle chute à 130 kilomètres de l'arrivée, Frank Schleck a terminé septième, alors qu'Andy, dix-huitième, fut longtemps l'un des principaux acteurs de cette belle Amstel Gold Race. / De notre envoyé spécial à Valkenburg Denis Bastien

Les amateurs de dénouements crispants étaient ravis. Scotchés à ce final souvent haletant que propose le Cauberg. Mais il faut bien l'admettre, lorsque Philippe Gilbert, qui, longtemps, très longtemps, s'était contenu même s'il n'avait pas manqué de sortir de ses gonds lorsqu'Andy, la première fois et Frank la deuxième, avaient tenté de jouer leur va-tout, se dresse sur sa machine, personne n'eut les jambes et le souffle pour aller le chercher. Le Wallon était si bondissant qu'il eut même le loisir de couper son élan avant de passer la ligne d'un Cauberg baigné par un onctueux soleil.

Il savourait, le bougre, comme s'il tenait à saluer, un par un, ses derniers opposants. Il avait bien raison car il avait un si joli coup de savate dans ce Limbourg si proche de ses Ardennes natales, qu'il mit ses poursuivants à plusieurs longueurs. «J'étais le plus fort, oui, mais les frères Schleck n'étaient pas mal non plus», reconnut-il plus tard, au moment d'accoucher ses sentiments.

Succès d'envergure amplement mérité

Avouons-le tout net. Philippe Gilbert qui, l'an passé déjà, avait marqué les esprits en empochant coup sur coup Paris-Tours et le Tour de Lombardie, deux autres jolis monuments, a amplement mérité ce nouveau succès d'envergure. «C'était le plus fort», dira Andy Schleck. «Le plus fort, avec nous», nuancera Frank.

Mais hier, l'Amstel Gold Race ne s'est embarrassé d'aucune nuance. Car si longtemps et comme c'est forcément souvent le cas dans cette classique pour hommes forts, la bataille mit longtemps à prendre tournure le long des collines verdoyantes du Limbourg, le coup de flingue d'Andy Schleck eut le grand mérite de faire tomber les masques. L'Espagnol Joachim Rodriguez fut la première victime. C'était l'un des grands favoris et bien vite il est apparu trop court. À sa décharge, le long trajet en voiture qu'il s'est infligé pour rallier les Pays-Bas a pu jouer.

Mais Robert Gesink, le grimpeur néerlandais de la Rabobank, jouait à domicile. Au mieux, il put tenter de recoller les morceaux. En difficulté pour suivre le train d'Andy Schleck, il s'est repris alors que sa seule mission n'était plus que de chasser derrière Alexandr Kolobnev, le Russe d'une très forte équipe Katusha, privé sur le fil d'un premier succès d'envergure. En vain donc pour Gesink puisque Oscar Freire, son leader, ne fut jamais en mesure de gicler au plus fort de la pente finale.

Philippe Gilbert avait donc le meilleur profil. Il offrait surtout le meilleur compromis de la classe très spéciale des puncheurs. En fait, le coureur de Remouchamps avait fait le plus dur en réussissant la gageure de tenir le coup face aux accélérations des purs grimpeurs. On en revient fatalement aux frères Schleck. Merci pour eux, on les retrouve peu ou prou dans les mêmes conditions que l'an passé. Costauds. Très costauds même et cela promet évidemment pour dimanche prochain. Car sur un Liège-Bastogne-Liège au parcours aussi rugueux que l'Amstel, ils pourraient faire un nouveau malheur.

Mais hier, nous étions sur l'Amstel Gold Race, classée habituellement comme la première des trois Ardennaises. L'Amstel et ses particularismes. Dont ses routes dangereuses, ses ronds-points et ses virages incessants. L'occasion pour Frank Schleck de s'offrir une nouvelle frayeur, une fois encore, Dieu merci sans frais. L'intéressé en souriait d'ailleurs après coup : «J'ai l'habitude et tout s'est finalement bien passé. J'ai pensé à ma petite famille…»

Les Mondorfois avaient des cannes

Comme il se releva d'un bond, changea deux fois de vélo tandis que dans le même temps, Andy essuyait une petite crevaison, les deux frangins inséparables, étaient prêts à repartir pour le front.

Les coureurs mondorfois avaient manifestement des cannes. Une équipe au top. Alors pourquoi ne se sont-ils pas imposés? Tout simplement parce que la pancarte qu'ils avaient brandie à chacun de leur assaut était devenue trop lourde à porter. Impossible pour eux de prendre la tangente. Et c'est là que Philippe Gilbert a diablement bien joué le coup. Avec un allié de poids en la présence de son coéquipier et compatriote Jurgen Van den Broeck. Celui-ci abattit un boulot phénoménal pour son leader. Le regroupement étant assuré, Philippe Gilbert n'avait plus qu'à débouler. À lâcher les chevaux. Son succès hier fait aussi office d'avertissement. Dimanche sur le final de la Doyenne, alors qu'il sera à domicile puisque le Wallon est né au pied de la côte de la Redoute, il sera là. Sauf si comme l'an passé, Andy Schleck met les gaz. Andy ou Frank, peu importe, c'est, sur ce qu'on vu hier, quasiment du pareil au même!

Pics from the Amstel and a wonderful vid

Pic by Serge Waldbillig More pics here
and here
and a wonderful vid

"It was the right time, the key point to attack": Article by Cyclinews

Pic by Kelly Kalmes

Schlecks shut out in Amstel

By:Daniel Benson

Good weather makes selections difficult

Fränk and Andy Schleck were two of the biggest pre-race favourites for Amstel Gold Race but the brothers came up short in Sunday's Dutch Classics. Fränk finished the higher of the brothers, in seventh, while Andy crossed the line in 18th.

Despite showing good form and aggressive race tactics, it was a disappointing result for the Saxo Bank duo, who had dreamed of dividing Amstel and Liège - Bastogne - Liège between them.

However both riders were two of the strongest protagonists in today's race. Andy was the first genuine candidate to show his hand with a strong dig on the Eyserbosweg with around 20 kilometres to race. It whittled down the leaders to just a handful of riders, including Damiano Cunego (Lampre), Sergie Ivanov (Katusha) and eventual winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

The group were soon caught, and Fränk immediately countered, but his move was also nullified. At the finish in Valkenburg Andy admitted that the good conditions had been a huge factor in keeping the race together for so long and that he was surprised that so many riders arrived at the final climb, the Caugberg, together.

"It's been a good race but when we went on the Eyserbosweg we knew we had to go from far," he told Cyclingnews. "There were five or six of us at the top but I've not seen Amstel like that, maybe the conditions made it easier in years before because there were so many still there. After the Eyserbosweg it's not normally like that."

With the leaders regrouping at the foot of the Cauberg, both Schlecks were unable to respond to Gilbert, who timed his move to perfection.

"When we got to the final 10 kilometres I was cramping a bit. I had something missing on the last climb."

Despite missing out on a win, the Schlecks will take confidence in the fact that they both have form. Andy missed the start of the season due to injury and Frank only recently recovered from a crash in Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and while neither has a win yet in 2010, both Flèche and Liège are ideally suited to their strengths.

"I'm happy and looking forward to the next races. I was missing a bit in the end today but my condition is good and I'm looking forward to the next two races, " said Andy.

As for his attack on the Eyserbosweg, Andy added that it was the right time to attack and that waiting until the finale would have been too much of a gamble. "It was the right time, the key point to attack," he said. "The conditions were not like years before and so many were coming back. In the beginning we had Gilbert and Cunego and there were five or six and then there were 11 and then there were 30."

Team boss Bjarne Riis also played down the significance of today's result, pointing to the strong showing from his entire team, not just the Schlecks. Just as in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Saxo Bank took the race by the scruff of the neck in an attempt to put its opposition on the back foot, but unlike the cobbled Classics, they were missing Fabian Cancellara, who ruled himself out of the race after victory in Flanders and Roubaix.

"Gilbert had better legs today. He was the strongest and he deserved to win," Riis told Cyclingnews. "But the whole team knew what we wanted to do and we tried everything. Sometimes it doesn't work out and it's just like that. I'm happy."

"We wanted to put pressure on the rest and take the lead but sometimes it doesn't pay off. The good thing is that we know they're there and that they'll both be strong. It's a good cast to have."


Great pic by a great photographer!

Georges Noesen

Vid about Andy's attack in Amstel


Pic by TDW

schleckfrankBig chapeau2 gilbert he was the strongest @andy_schleck n myself are back we made the race.great team again 2day.thanks.folks liege can come

Amstel to Gilbert in a confusing sprint finsh

Ok, I'm a little disappointed and probably Andy and Frank too. Amstel is a strange race, Andy said that openly in one of his last interview: you must be the strongest and smarter... but that isn't enough. Today we saw a really confusing race, more stressing then hard. Gilbert was amazing all the time so you can't say he simply had a good luck, even if you could say that both Andy and Frank had a quite bad luck: Frank crashed early but without serious consequences, Andy had mechanic problems in a wrong moment and maybe spent too much there, so lacked that little extra strength to fly away when attacked, as usual in the hardest of the hardest climb. That was a splendid move but couldn't be decisive.
Did Team Saxo Bank made
any mistakes? Yes in my opinion and 3 particularly: 1. They controled the race but wasn't able to keep it closed as long as it would have been necessary. Maybe the team wasn't so strong without Fabian, Matti, CA... Or perhaps and simply the other teams were stronger and worked better then usual. 2. It wasn't clear enough who was the leader: ok, you can have 2 or 3 cards to play but playing them at once without an order isn't so good. Andy attacked but failed, then Frank went away with that small group and both seemed unsure about what they must do. 3 The team probably decided to let go Frank and Andy stoped, but that was a very very big mistake, coz after a while the small gruoup was caught and precious time has been wasted. The final climb was there and in that anomalous bunch sprint Frank was simply disarmed. Andy arrived at the end of the first group without ever trying to make the most of such an hard final. Gilbert escaped, they remained there.
Honestly I didn't like that race. But Andy's attack was great. Maybe I was lucky to miss the Amstel: I'm sure to see something much better in Flech and Liège. As I said Andy and Frank are probably disappointed now. That's normal. But keep your confidence guys, we do!

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto

2 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions

3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana

4 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo

6 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini

7 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank

8 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

9 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team

10 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack
11 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank

12 Sergie Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha

13 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team

14 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 0:00:17
15 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha

16 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 0:00:19
17 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:00:21
18 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:25
19 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step 0:00:37
20 Jurgen Vandenbroeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:46
21 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:56
22 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha 0:01:11
23 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:01:38
24 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:02:02
25 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Team Milram

26 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank 0:02:07
27 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:02:11
28 Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:02:18
29 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank 0:02:25
30 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

31 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Footon-Servetto 0:02:29
32 Fabio Felline (Ita) Footon-Servetto 0:02:34
33 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:36
34 Manuele Mori (Ita) Footon-Servetto 0:02:56
35 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator 0:03:19
36 Simon Geschke (Ger) Skil - Shimano

37 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

38 Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

39 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Team Milram

40 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana

41 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions

42 Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - Columbia

43 Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

44 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

45 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team

46 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

47 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana

48 Rob Ruygh (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

49 David Loosli (Swi) Footon-Servetto 0:03:26
50 Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Astana 0:03:28
51 Mikel Nieve Ituralde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

52 Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) Sky Professional Cycling Team

53 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank

54 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

55 Maxime Montfort (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia

56 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia 0:03:32
57 Aitor Perez Arrieta (Spa) Footon-Servetto

58 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha 0:03:38
59 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Footon-Servetto

60 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française Des Jeux

61 Johannes Frohlinger (Ger) Team Milram

62 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank

63 Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team Radioshack

64 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team

65 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux

66 Biel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

67 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram

68 Anthony Roux (Fra) Française Des Jeux 0:03:45
69 Ivan Velasco Murillo (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:52
70 Matteo Bono (Ita) Footon-Servetto

71 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia 0:03:59
72 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

73 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:04:02
74 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto

75 Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil - Shimano 0:08:59
76 Christopher Froome (Ken) Sky Professional Cycling Team 0:10:20
77 Marcel Wyss (Swi) Cervelo Test Team 0:10:31
78 Bart Dockx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

79 Jacob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank

80 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha

81 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

82 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

83 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team

84 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

85 Kristjan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo

86 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano

87 Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

88 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

89 Markus Eibegger (Aut) Footon-Servetto

90 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team

91 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Astana

92 Serguei Klimov (Rus) Team Katusha

93 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

94 Sander Armee (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

95 Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

96 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale

97 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo

98 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank

99 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step

100 Mario Aerts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto

101 Dimitri Muravyev (Kaz) Team Radioshack

102 Daniele Righi (Ita) Footon-Servetto

103 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux

104 Xavier Tondo Volpini (Spa) Cervelo Test Team

105 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:11:19
106 Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia

107 Wouter Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team

108 Jose Vinc Garcia Acosta (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:11:37
109 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Footon-Servetto 0:14:25
110 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step

111 Christian Meier (Can) Garmin - Transitions

112 Dominik Roels (Ger) Team Milram

113 Manuel Antonio Cardoso (Por) Footon-Servetto

114 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano

115 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Skil - Shimano

116 Preben Vanhecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

117 Mouro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo

118 Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step

119 Sebastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

DNF Joaquin Rodriquezoliver (Spa) Team Katusha

DNF Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Team Katusha

DNF Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale

DNF Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale

DNF Allan Davis (Aus) Astana

DNF Scott Davis (Aus) Astana

DNF Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana

DNF David Lopezgarcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne

DNF Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

DNF Alan Perezlezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi

DNF Matthias Brandle (Aut) Footon-Servetto

DNF Eros Capecchi (Ita) Footon-Servetto

DNF Martin Pedersen (Den) Footon-Servetto

DNF Rafael Vallsferri (Alb) Footon-Servetto

DNF Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des Jeux

DNF Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux

DNF Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin - Transitions

DNF Timothy Duggan (USA) Garmin - Transitions

DNF Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Transitions

DNF Danny Pate (USA) Garmin - Transitions

DNF Ricardo Vandervelde (Ned) Garmin - Transitions

DNF Francesco Belloti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo

DNF Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo

DNF Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas-Doimo

DNF Gerben Lowik (Ned) Omega Pharma-Lotto

DNF Jean-Christophe Perraud (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto

DNF Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step

DNF Kevin Deweert (Bel) Quick Step

DNF Jerome Pineau (Fra) Quick Step

DNF Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank

DNF Russell Downing (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team

DNF Davide Vigano (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team

DNF Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia

DNF Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram

DNF Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram

DNF Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram

DNF Ben Hermans (Bel) Team Radioshack

DNF Fuyu Li (Chn) Team Radioshack

DNF Roman Vaitkus (Ltu) Team Radioshack

DNF Jonas Aaen-Jorgensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank

DNF Andre Steensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank

DNF Laurent Didier (Lux) Team Saxo Bank

DNF Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank

DNF Brent Bookwalters (USA) BMC Racing Team

DNF Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team

DNF Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team

DNF Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team

DNF Simon Zahner (Swi) BMC Racing Team

DNF Davide Appollonio (Ita) Cervelo Test Team

DNF Philip Deignan (Irl) Cervelo Test Team

DNF Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Landbouwkrediet

DNF Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

DNF Kevin Neyrinck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet

DNF Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil - Shimano

DNF Yann Huguet (Fra) Skil - Shimano

DNF Piet Rooijakkers (Ned) Skil - Shimano

DNF Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator

DNF Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator