The hills were alive with the sound of whirring gears, clanking cowbells, and sweating riders at today’s Championship of Zurich World Cup. PEZ-Man Chris Selden was there to witness Round 8 of the Bettini-Rebellin battle.
It’s a feat that’s never been done before, and by someone no-one expected either just over a week ago. Davide Rebellin is the first man to take 3 Ardennes Classics in a season after another brilliant performance in Liege-Bastogne-Liege this afternoon.
The last Classic of the Spring is the oldest and, arguably, the most beautiful. After the flat roads of MSR, the bergs of Flanders, the cobbles of P-R and the hills of the Amstel Gold, it’s time to hit the longer climbs of the Belgian Ardennes.
After practically an entire career of near misses and second places, Davide Rebellin will be celebrating with a crate of the sponsor’s finest after winning the Amstel Gold World Cup race. Over 251 nasty and hilly kilometres in supposedly flat Holland, he came out on top ahead of home favourite Michael Boogerd in a 2-up sprint. Paolo Bettini came home for third.
The little sister of the more famous Classics, the Amstel Gold isn’t as well known as Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders or Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but it’s a hell of a race in its own right. 30 short, sharp climbs demolish the idea that Holland is flat – after 250 leg-snapping kms on Sunday the riders will be able to tell you that!
The winner of Paris-Roubaix is assured of a place in the main pages of the cycling history books. The winner of the Amstel Gold Race isn’t. Why ? It’s a great race, with its steep short slopes and narrow roads, and has delivered winners like Merckx, Hinault, Maertens, Knetemann, Zoetemelk, ...
I had no idea. I thought I did – watching hours of the cobbled races in tv, knowing the riders and their specialities for these northern races. I thought I knew what these races are about. Then I went to Belgium to see, and ride, and learn. Here's what stood out for me...
We witnessed one of the most thrilling finishes in recent years, as the 2004 Queen of the Classics ended in Roubaix Velodrome this afternoon. Dry, dusty conditions and sunshine helped the riders avoid the worst of what this race can deliver.