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VILT, Netherlands (VN) – Last week big Swiss Grégory Rast earned the most important result of his career at Paris-Roubaix. On Sunday the RadioShack classics man was headed for a six-week vacation after stepping off the Amstel Gold Race course at the end of the first lap.
Rast said his fourth place in the Roubaix velodrome trumped all – even his overall title at the Tour of Luxembourg and team time trial win at the 2009 Tour de France.
“For me it’s the biggest success of course because it’s one of the biggest one-day races and fourth place is pretty good,” he told VeloNews atop the Cauberg finish climb. “Luxembourg is nice too, but this is one of the biggest races in the world.”
Rast led out the sprint for second ahead of Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) and Lars Bak (HTC-Highroad). He stood on his pedals out of the final corner on the track, but Cancellara powered past tucked in his saddle. Rast landed just off the podium and said the one thing he would change about the race was his sprint.
“The one thing I can say is that my sprint was not so clever, afterwards,” he said, standing atop the Cauberg finish climb. “Afterwards you’re always more clever. Maybe if it works everybody says it was perfect, but it didn’t work so well for me … I would start later now.”
Rast came to Maastricht a little weary for the start of his final spring classic and lasted just 73 kilometers. Still, he said, Amstel Gold is a race that the cobbled classics riders can contend, even if the Ardennes riders come in with fresher legs and minds.
“For us, the classics riders, this is a race that is still possible to do,” he said. “We’ve already fought for a month here in the north; every race is a fight for positioning. I think many guys of the northern classics are tired now. For most of those guys it’s their last race and for others it’s the first, so maybe it’s a little advantage if you’re fresh in the head coming into this race.”
With no Giro d’Italia or Tour of California on his schedule, Rast said he would miss a place in his home country’s Tour de Romandie next month. He was disappointed, but looking forward to six weeks at home.
“I have a six-week holiday. It’s wonderful for me,” he said. “I want to race Romandie, but some riders need to have racing in their legs to go to California; it’s really important to us. They have priority to go to Romandie. Also the riders for the Giro need to have Romandie. I have neither and so I’ll stay home.”