Rebellin ends seven-year itch at Amstel

It had been seven years since Gerolsteiner’s Davide Rebellin had taken back-to-back World Cup victories at the Clasica San Sebastian and Championship of Zürich. And despite having won 30 races since then, he was desperate to regain the prestige that had been grabbed in recent years by his fellow Italians Paolo Bettini and Danilo Di Luca.

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By John Wilcockson

Photo: Graham Watson

It had been seven years since Gerolsteiner’s Davide Rebellin had taken back-to-back World Cup victories at the Clasica San Sebastian and Championship of Zürich. And despite having won 30 races since then, he was desperate to regain the prestige that had been grabbed in recent years by his fellow Italians Paolo Bettini and Danilo Di Luca.

Rebellin in fact earned six World Cup podiums in the past four years: second and third places at Liège-Bastogne-Liège; second and third at Hamburg’s HEW Cyclassics Cup; second at the Tour of Lombardy; and third at San Sebastian. But he was ready for a return to the very top of one-day classicdom.

Rebellin’s opening came late on Sunday’s damp. gray afternoon, when he replied to an attack by Quick Step’s Bettini heading downhill into one of the Limburg region’s deep, green valleys 17km from the finish of the 251km Amstel Gold Race.

Di Luca tried his luck on the Keutenberg

Di Luca tried his luck on the Keutenberg

Photo: Graham Watson

From a front peloton that had just been blown apart on the steep, narrow Eyserbosweg climb, the chase was taken up by four other race favorite’s: Saeco’s Di Luca, Lotto-Domo’s Peter Van Petegem, T-Mobile’s Matthias Kessler and Rabobank’s Michael Boogerd.

The four chasers were close to catching their prey halfway up the Fromberg, the 29th of the Dutch classic’s 31 short by demanding climbs, when Rebellin bravely decided to attack Bettini. “It was the good moment to go,” he said later. “I was confident because I am at 100-percent of my condition right now.”

The 31-year-old’s move surprised Bettini, who drifted back to the chasers just as local man Boogerd put everything he had into catching Rebellin. Once together and with 15km remaining, Rebellin and Boogerd worked perfectly in tandem, taking an immediate lead of 15 seconds. The four chasers also worked hard, but their initial pursuit was interrupted over the second-to-last climb, the 22-percent Keutenberg, when Di Luca made an ultimately futile solo counterattack.

Rebellin’s and Boogerd’s lead grew to 36 seconds with 5km remaining, by which point the two leaders knew that they were going to fight out the victory on the closing 700-meter-long Cauberg climb at Valkenburg. Both were confident of winning.

The Amstel is a big draw for Dutch fans all along the route

The Amstel is a big draw for Dutch fans all along the route

Photo: Graham Watson

Boogerd, the 1999 Amstel Gold Race champion, took second place at last year’s edition — which was the first to have a summit finish in its 39-year history. In that finish 12 months ago, four seconds behind winner Alex Vinokurov, Boogerd handily outsprinted Di Luca, Rebellin and Kessler.

So Boogerd thought he had mastery of this particular finish, while Rebellin knew that he could do better. “I was still recovering from intestinal problems last year — I had a tape worm in 2002 — and I wasn’t at my best,” Rebellin said.

Rabobank at the helm

Rabobank at the helm

Photo: Graham Watson

This year, fired up by a huge crowd of Dutch fans lining both sides of the Cauberg, Boogerd calmly climbed the hill waiting to unleash his sprint 300 meters from the line. “Last year, I went at the same point and won the sprint,” Boogerd said. “It was that simple.”

But it was less simple this time. Boogerd’s move proved to be the day’s second opening for Rebellin. “It was great for me as he led out the sprint,” said the Italian, who confidently kept within 5 meters of Boogerd’s back wheel on the last 250 meters of the climb before punching it on the almost level finish stretch. Boogerd knew he was beat, and coasted across the line — runner-up for the third time in the past five years.

Eighteen seconds back, Bettini easily out-kicked Di Luca and Van Petegem for third place, while Kessler fell back on the climb to place sixth. Kessler’s T-Mobile team Steffen Wesemann retained his overall lead in the 2004 UCI World Cup by placing 20th and salvaging six points. That was enough to keep him one point ahead of Rabobank’s Oscar Freire, who finished 14th on Sunday.

The top American finisher was U.S. Postal-Berry Floor’s Floyd Landis, who finished in the main chase group, taking 29th, and 1:28 behind Rebellin. “[Floyd] did his best,” said Postal directeur sportif Dirk Demol. “He tried maybe one climb too early to go with Kessler … but he tried. He did a very good ride.”

Photo: Graham Watson

Indeed, Landis finished the race right alongside defending champion Vinokurov — who was never a factor in this year’s race. As Rebellin knows, you win some, you lose some. Rebellin, though, said he’s now ready to win again. Perhaps the little Italian is headed, as in 1997, toward taking World Cup victories back-to-back next Sunday at Liège. That should be another great race!

1. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner, 6:23:44 (39.262 kph),
2. Michael Boogerd (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:01
3. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step, at 0:18
4. Danilo Di Luca (I), Saeco
5. Peter Van Petegem (B), Lotto-Domo
6. Matthias Kessler (G), T-Mobile, at 0:26
7. Erik Dekker (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:41
8. Serguei Ivanov (Rus), T-Mobile, at 0:52
9. Mirko Celestino (I), Saeco, at 0:53
10. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Liberty Seguros, at 0:55
11. Oscar Camenzind (Swi), Phonak, at 0:57
12. Luca Paolini (I), Quick Step, at 1:00
13. Axel Merckx (B), Lotto-Domo, at 1:12
14. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp), Rabobank, at 1:16
15. Michele Bartoli (I), CSC
16. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile
17. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), Saeco
18. Frank Vandenbroucke (B), Fassa Bortolo
19. Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Sp), Liberty Seguros
20. Steffen Wesemann (G), T-MobileWorld Cup standings
1. Steffen Wesemann (G), T-Mobile – 116 pts
2. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp), Rabobank – 115
3. Davide Rebellin (I), Gerolsteiner – 100
4. Magnus Backstedt (S), Alessio-Bianchi – 100
5. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step – 94
6. Peter Van Petegem (B), Lotto-Domo – 94
7. Leif Hoste (B), Lotto-Domo – 84
8. Erik Zabel (G), T-Mobile – 80
9. Erik Dekker (Nl), Rabobank – 79
10. Michael Boogerd (Nl), Rabobank – 76

Photo Gallery


Race Results

1. Davide Rebellin (I), 6:23:44

2. Michael Boogerd (Nl), 6:23:45

3. Paolo Bettini (I), 6:24:02

4. Danilo Di Luca (I), 6:24:02

5. Peter Van Petegem (B), 6:24:02

6. Matthias Kessler (G), 6:24:10

7. Erik Dekker (Nl), 6:24:25

8. Sergei Ivanov (Rus), 6:24:36

9. Mirko Celestino (I), 6:24:37

10. Giampaolo Caruso (I), 6:24:39

11. Oscar Camenzind (Swi), 6:24:41

12. Luca Paolini (I), 6:24:44

13. Axel Merckx (B), 6:24:56

14. Freire G. Oscar (Sp), 6:25:00

15. Michele Bartoli (I), 6:25:00

16. Erik Zabel (G), 6:25:00

17. Eddy Mazzoleni (I), 6:25:00

18. Frank Vandenbroucke (B), 6:25:00

19. Serrano R. Marcos (Sp), 6:25:00

20. Steffen Wesemann (G), 6:25:00

21. Nicki Sorensen (Dk), 6:25:00

22. Michele Scarponi (I), 6:25:00

23. Martin Elminger (Swi), 6:25:00

24. Serhiy Honchar (Ukr), 6:25:00

25. Laurent Brochard (F), 6:25:07

26. Pereiro S. Oscar (Sp), 6:25:07

27. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), 6:25:12

28. Vladimir Miholjevic (CRO), 6:25:12

29. Floyd Landis (USA), 6:25:12

30. Franco Pellzotti (I), 6:25:12

31. Jose Azevedo (P), 6:25:28

32. Rubiera V. Jose Luis (Sp), 6:25:38

33. Horrillo M. Pedro (Sp), 6:27:27

34. Philippe Gilbert (B), 6:27:27

35. Michael Barry (CAN), 6:27:27

36. Alessandro Bertolini (I), 6:27:27

37. Paolo Valoti (I), 6:27:27

38. Geert Verheyen (B), 6:27:27

39. Marc Lotz (Nl), 6:27:27

40. Markus Zberg (Swi), 6:27:27

41. Michael Blaudzun (Dk), 6:27:27

42. Jurgen Van Goolen (B), 6:27:27

43. Rolf Aldag (G), 6:27:27

44. Wim Vanhuffel (B), 6:27:27

45. Lastras G. Pablo (Sp), 6:27:27

46. Karsten Kroon (Nl), 6:27:39

47. Andrea Noe (I), 6:27:39

48. Bram Tankink (Nl), 6:27:39

49. Nico Sijmens (B), 6:27:39

50. Cristian Moreni (I), 6:27:39

51. Vicioso A. Angel (Sp), 6:27:39

52. Gregory Rast (Swi), 6:27:39

53. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), 6:27:39

54. Romans Vainsteins (Lat), 6:27:39

55. Erwin Thijs (B), 6:29:57

56. Johann Coenen (B), 6:29:57

57. Fabian Wegmann (G), 6:29:57

58. Koos Moerenhout (Nl), 6:29:57

59. Massimiliano Gentili (I), 6:29:57

60. Chris Peers (B), 6:29:57

61. Andrej Hauptman (SLO), 6:29:57

62. Stefano Zanini (I), 6:29:57

63. Arvesen Kurt-Asle ( NO), 6:29:57

64. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus), 6:29:57

65. Daniele Nardello (I), 6:29:57

66. Frank Schleck (Lux), 6:29:57

67. Joachim Benoît (Lux), 6:29:57

68. Ellis Rastelli (I), 6:29:57

69. Flecha G. Juan Ant. (Sp), 6:29:57

70. Aart Vierhouten (Nl), 6:29:57

71. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), 6:30:30

72. Leon Van Bon (Nl), 6:30:40

73. Bert Hieemstra (Nl), 6:31:34

74. Sandy Casar (F), 6:32:21

75. Filippo Pozzato (I), 6:32:59

76. Gutierrez P. José (Sp), 6:33:39

77. Sanchez G. Luis Leon (Sp), 6:33:39

78. Alexander Bazhenov (Rus), 6:35:07

79. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), 6:35:15

80. Francesco Failli (I), 6:35:28

81. Massimo Giunti (I), 6:35:28

82. Peter Wrolich (A), 6:35:28

83. Simone Cadamuro (I), 6:35:28

84. Dariusz Baranowski (Pol), 6:35:28

85. Roger Hammond ( GB), 6:35:28

86. Mark Scanlon (IRL), 6:35:28

87. Ramirez A. Javier (Sp), 6:35:28

88. Paolo Bossoni (I), 6:35:28

89. Gianluca Bortolami (I), 6:35:28

90. Alessandro Ballan (I), 6:35:28

91. Uros Mum (SLO), 6:35:28

92. Jan Van Velzen (Nl), 6:35:28

93. Davide Bramati (I), 6:35:28

94. Nico Mattan (B), 6:35:40

95. Roberto Petito (I), 6:35:40

96. Righi Daniele (I), 6:35:40

97. Geert Van Bondt (B), 6:35:48

98. Pieter Mertens (B), 6:35:48

99. Ruslan Ivanov ( MD), 6:35:48

100. Kim Kirchen (Lux), 6:35:48

101. Filippo Simeoni (I), 6:35:48

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