14/04/13 - 10:19 AM
Road race - Men
Amstel Gold Race • Stage1

Road race - Men

Follow the Amstel Gold Race live with Eurosport. The Amstel Gold Race race starts at 10:19 on 14 April 2013. Find Amstel Gold Race results, calendar, standings and table. Get all the info on the teams to watch.
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Result: 1. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo - Tinkoff) 6:35:21" 2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +22" 3. Simon Gerrans (Orica) 4. Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) 5. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 6. Pieter Weening (Orica) 7. Bjoern Leukemans (Vacansoleil) 8. Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) 9. Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) 10. Fabian Wegmann (Garmin).


Alejandro Valverde won the sprint for second place ahead of Simon Gerrans, Gianni Meersman and Philippe Gilbert.


First win for a Czech rider in Amstel Gold - and the move to Saxo Bank-Tinkoff has paid off for Kreuziger.


Roman Kreuziger takes the win! An astonishing ride - they all underestimated him, that's for sure.


What a ride from Kreuziger! He will hold on and win this one.


Now Valverde goes! But it looks like Kreuziger will hold on as he passes the one to go banner.


Kreuziger still has about 10 seconds. Gilbert is the lone chaser, with Gerrans and Valverde not combining well in pursuit.


Here come the peloton! Caruso has gone off alone, but it's Gilbert and Gerrans who lay it down thick. Caruso slips a chain and almost takes out both riders as they pass. Valverde is there too, but no sign of Sagan!


Kreuziger onto the final ascent of the Cauberg... with five riders in pursuit, and RadioShack's Ben Hermans in lone pursuit, and the peloton powering behind.


This is an inspired ride by Kreuziger, who now has 26 seconds. Hesjedal has bridged the gap ahead of the Cauberg. Kreuziger is giving it some welly down this descent - he doesn't want to tire himself out ahead of the final ascent though.


Kreuziger has 21 seconds over the peloton - and now Caruso has a dig. Grivko, Nordhaug and Weening follow his wheel, and Hesjedal is closing in too.


Hesjedal has one RadioShack rider in pursuit, but the peloton is not yielding much. On the front, Kreuziger has opened up a gap, with Caruso, Grivko and Weening in pursuit. They're bickering though, with Weening not happy with Caruso's lack of work ethic.


Now Kreuziger goes alone! The Czech rider has dropped his fellow escapees and is in time trial mode.


Grivko is now back with the four leaders, but it looks like Marcato has caled it a day. Back with the peloton, thers's an attack by Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp, the reigning Giro d'Italia champion.


Back on the Bemelerberg and Grivko puts in a big dig. Astarloza and Marcato are being shed off. Now it's Nordhaug who rides on the front. Grivko, who put in the early dig, has dropped himself - he's now been passed by Marcato off the back. Kreuziger takes up the pace with Weening, Caruso on their wheel with Nordhaug. Astarloza has been caught by the pack. Chapeau for effort.


Omega Pharma-Quick Step have come to the front of the streamlined pack. We haven't seen anything of Gianni Meersman today - he'll be a factor in the finale.


The chase is back as one as the pack rides 27 seconds down on the leaders. It looks like it will come down to the final ascent of the Cauberg.


The seven-man leading group is: Astarloza, Weening, Caruso, Marcato, Grivko, Nordhaug and Kreuziger. Six men are riding in pursuit just off the front of the peloton, including Peter Velits of Omega Pharma and Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol). Simon Gerrans is there too. But the peloton isn't giving them any headway. The seven leaders only have 25 seconds now.


Kreuziger leads the chasing riders on the Bemelerberg with Weening in his wheel. They catch Astarloza just over the summit. Pliuschin and Tanner have been caught by the pack and there are numerous digs from Astana and Vacansoleil.


The two chasing groups are coming together now with 17km remaining. It's a strong chasing group, it has to be said. They will catch Astarloza soon. He's onto the Bemelerberg.


Astarloza is over the summit of the Cauberg and on to the long, flat slog towards the finish line in Valkenberg. The five chasers are not far back, and then they're pursued by Damiano Caruso (Katusha), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil) and Roman Kreuziger (Saxo Bank).


Cunego is instantly brought back by the pack after that explosion of pace by BMC. Gilbert, Gerrans, Valverde, Sagan and Gasparotto are all there together on the front as an attack comes from a Vacansoleil riders, Marcato. Igor Anton of Euskaltel has a pop too. Kreuziger attacks as well.


Astarloza is now on the foot of the Cauberg for the penultimate ascent of the famous climb. He's riding extremely well, although looks rather knackered now - understandably. Prepare for some action behind from the pack. Cunego, by the way, is still chasing the five-man chase group, although Spilak has been caught. BMC lead the peloton onto the Cauberg through big Marcus Burghardt.


ATTACK: Now Damiano Cunego (Lampre) has a pop from the pack. The Italian hasn't won a classic since the 2008 Giro di Lombardia. There's no consorted chase in the peloton - perhaps because no one team has riders in numbers. That said, Cannondale have three riders in green alongside Sagan and you'd think soon they will pull their finger out.


The five-man chasing group is Andrei Grivko (Astana), Peter Tanner and Lars Petter Nordhaug (both Blanco), Alexandr Pliuschin (IAM) and Pieter Weening (GreenEdge). They trail Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) by 1:25 with the pack 2:12 down on the Spaniard.


ATTACK: Simon Spilak of Katusha pings off the front, but he's shut down by BMC. It's getting interesting now. Moments after the Slovenian is caught, he attacks again, and this time he's allowed to go. No news on Joaquim Rodriguez, but we presume he has retired from the race following that crash earlier.


Grivko, Nordhaug and Tanner have caught Pliuschin, who will struggle again to hold on. Lagutin must have been taken back by the pack because there's no sign of him any more. Astarloza is still out ahead with 1:30 over the main pack. Weening, who is eating something now following that last climb, looks to be easing up for the next group of four riders.


The latest on Voeckler is a fractured right shoulder - so not the collar bone or leg as initially reported. Time will tell. Fingers crossed he's okay.


Vansummeren's popped! He's passed by Weening on the Keutenberg. Plusuchin tries to stay with Weening, but it will be a struggle. Blanco have two in pursuit in David Tanner and Lars Peter Nordhaug, who with Andriy Grivko (Astana) have pinged off the front of the main pack.


Vansummeren and Pliuschin pass under a very narrow railway arch as they continue their pursuit of lone leader Astarloza. It's not clear how much they trail the Spaniard by. The Euskaltel man is now on the steepest climb of the race, the Keutenberg - with a max gradient of 22% it's the tallest peak in the Netherlands.


Astarloza is onto the Fromberg with a 1:52 lead over the pack, which has just been attacked by Sergey Lagutin from Vacansoleil. He's a dangerous rider, the Usbek national champion. Interesting move - especially if he can reach Weening.


Weening went over the summit ahead of the pack and is now opened up a gap on the descent. Astarloza is still pedalling along solo to lead this race in a rare display of classics gusto by Euskaltel.


ATTACK: Pieter Weening of Orica-GreenEdge has put in a big dig on the Eyserbosweg to open up a gap on the front of the main pack.


It's coming down fast now as the pace increases considerably on the front of the pack. Astarloza has 1:47 now.


Blanco and BMC are on the front of the pack on the latest climb, the Kruisberg. Astarloza is still the lone leader, 2:38 ahead of the pack, with Vansummeren and Pliuschin in pursuit.


Michael Mattews of Orica-GreenEdge and Rob Ruijgh were involved in that crash too, the Dutchman going down very heavily in the mud. He looks a right mess, but is continuing. No news on Rodriguez yet.


CRASH: Joaquim Rodriguez is one of a handful of riders to hit the deck as the road narrows. it looks like some riders got stuck in the mud on the side. This doesn't look good for the Spaniard.


Astarloza dancing up this latest climb, the Gulpenerberg, to drop both Vansummeren and Pliuschin. This is an interesting move.


Talk of a broken leg for Thomas Voeckler. That would be terrible for the Frenchman, effectively ending his season. It could have repercussions on team-manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau renewing Europcar's sponsorship deal too - as well as the hunt for a co-sponsor. We hope it's not as bad as the rumours going around.


Now GreenEdge are driving the pace on he front of the peloton. They have Simon Gerrans as their number one, but also Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini too. The gap is down to 3:05.


Norwegian national champion Edvald Boasson Hagen is riding alongside British youngster Josh Edmondson in the middle of the peloton, the two Sky riders trying to edge closer to the front. Boasson Hagen has not been in the best of nick this season.


Vansummeren and Astaroza drop their breakaway companions on the longest climb of the race. Pliuschin manages to rejoin them, but the other four Pro Continental team riders have been dropped.


Philippe Gilbert is once again off the back of the peloton as he looks to have a chat with the team car and take on some food. He has a quick chat with Jean Lelangue in the BMC car and then returns to the pack.


Astana are riding as one around their man Enrico Gasparotto. In fact, it has become very segregated as the teams are clustering together - with Vacansoleil and Omega both forming tight-knit groups on the front of the pack alongside Katusha. The lead of the Vansummeren group is now 4:15.


Vasil Kiryienka of Sky, who crashed before that big pile-up, looks in a bad way - he has a nasty cut to his left elbow and arm, which is bleeding fairly profusely. It's Kiryienka's former Movistar team-mate Pablo Lastras who is driving the pace on the front of the pack now, with Katusha there in their numbers. The gap is down to 4:45, while Lars Boom of Blanco has been dropped by the pack after all that pace-setting earlier.


Team Europcar directeur sportif Andy Flickinger has confirmed that Voeckler is en route to hospital after coming down in that pig pile up. No news what the problem is - although there is talk of a broken collarbone.


It's Alexandr Pliuschin of IAM Ccycling who is setting the pace for the seven leaders, whose gap over the peloton is down to 5:28.


News filtering through that Andy Schleck has abandoned the race too after that crash. The RadioShack rider was fighting back onto the peloton with the likes of Gilbert, but it seems like he's called it a day. He is really struggling with bad luck these days. Fingers crossed he'll be back for Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday.


After that quite extraordinary passage of riding things have calmed down somewhat as the peloton pass through the feed zone 7:25 down on the seven leaders, who broke away around 10km into the race following an attack by Johan Vansummeren.


Alejandro Valverde was not involved in that crash and is in the heart of this chasing group. He's another option for the win today. Lars Boom and Blanco have eased up, though, and the peloton has rejoined the splinter group. There are still numerous riders off the back, but it's pretty much back as one in the pursuit of the leading seven-man break.


NEWSFLASH: Thomas Voeckler of Europcar has been taken to hospital following that pile-up. Bad news for the French veteran - let's hope he's okay.


BMC lead the chase for the main peloton, which trails a group of around 30 riders who rode clear following that pile-up. The seven leaders have 7:25 over the chasing group, with the peloton another 25 seconds back. I can't see Peter Sagan in that chasing group, so the Slovak sensation may be in the main pack with his big rival, Gilbert.


The leading Vansummeren septet have passed the finish line once again. They have 8:15 over the pack, which is strung out after that crash. Gilbert is back in the peloton, but it's stretched out considerably as Blanco continue laying it down hard. In fact, they have forced a select chasing group, which now has 30 seconds on the peloton.


Lars Boom still sets the pace on the front of the pack for Blanco. Vacansoleil are right up there too, but the Gilbert chasing group is still quite off the pace. Interestingly, Peter Sagan's Cannondale have dropped back a bit - clearly keen not to be flagged up for unsporting play given that crash to the world champion.


Lars Boom has laid down the hammer for Blanco. They may have lost Ten Dam, but the Dutch team are trying to take advantage of that crash. Gilbert now has team-mate Martin Kohler with him, as well as Schleck and Costa. Still a lot of work to do before they rejoin the pack, mind.


Gilbert is completely isolated as he chases back on towards the back of the pack. The world champion has no BMC team-mates with him - but he's been joined by Andy Schleck of RadioShack and Rui Costa of Movistar.


CRASH: World champion Philippe Gilbert is one of numerous riders to hit the deck in a big pile-up. It takes him a long time to get a new bike so he'll have a real fight to get back onto the peloton. He looks fine though - unlike Laurens Ten Dam of Blanco, who fell heavily. It happened near the front and around 100 riders took evasive action by riding through a field on the right-hand side of the road.


CRASH: Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has hit the deck.


The action is now live on British Eurosport. David Harmon has been joined by Big Magnus Backstedt in the commentary box. David just reminded us that Johan Vansummeren is the joint tallest rider in the peloton alongside Marcel Sieberg of Lotto Belisol. They both measure 6'6" (198cm). I would beg to differ. I think Stijn Vandenbergh, who collided with a spectator in last week's Paris Roubaix, is taller by 1cm. What do you reckon?


Blanco, Sky and Cannondale are all near the front of the peloton as the gap drops to 9:40.


Some interesting comments in the box below. John reckons the winner should get a year's supply of Amstel beer - which would make it hard to ever defend one's crown. Adam thinks that Diego Ulissi is a good tip for Lampre should Damiano Cunego falter - not a bad shout, that. David is opting for Gianni Meersman, with an attack or two from Schleck to test his legs. May be wishful thinking there - Andy's priority is to get in the kilometres ahead of Liege-Bastogne-Liege next weekend.


Really not much to report on, with the lead of that seven-man group staying just underneath the 11-minute mark. They are: Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs), Alexander Pliuschin (Iam Cycling), Arthur Vanoverberghe (Topsport), Mikel Astarzola (Euskaltel), Johan Vansummeren (Garmin Sharp), Klaas Sys (Crelan) and Nicolas Vogondy (Accent Jobs).


The leaders are onto the Eperheide climb - the 15th of 34 climbs on the route. We're just over half way through the race with the average speed a gentle 39.3km/h.


The final man in this break, Moldovan Alexsandr Pliushkin, joined IAM Cycling from Leopard following previous stints at both Katusha and Ag2R. The 26 year old is a previous winner of the Tour of Flanders junior race.


Klaas Sys has three minor wins to his name and is riding his first season at Crelan. The 26-year-old Belgian finished 107th in last week's Brabantse Pijl and has no victories since a double scalp in the 2011 Tour de Guadeloupe. The fourth Belgian of this break is the aptly named Arthur Vanoverbergh. The 23 year old is riding his second season for Topsport and is still in search of a UCI win.


Vansummeren and Astarloza are the only World Tour riders in the break - the other five men are all from Pro Continental teams. Nicolas Vogondy joined Accent Jobs from Cofidis this season. The French veteran has 21 UCI wins to his name including a stage at the 2010 Dauphine. Team-mate Tim De Troyer is the opposite end of the spectrum to Vogondy: 13 years younger than the Frenchman at 22, Belgian De Troyer has no UCI wins to his name but this is only his debut season as a full pro.


Still no concern in the peloton, which rolls along 10:55 down on the seven leaders. Spanish veteran Mikel Astarloza is in the break today. The 33 year old hasn't won a race since the 2003 Tour Down Under and he's hardly a classics specialist. Bu Euskaltel are having a torrid season and perhaps the Basque rider has been ordered to make sure there's some orange in the break.


We've had just over 100km of riding so far with the seven leaders still holding a tidy 11-minute cushion over the peloton, which is being controlled by the Cannondale team of race favourite Peter Sagan. Johan Vansummeren insigated the break and the big Belgian is the stand-out rider in this leading group. The 32-year-old won Paris-Roubaix in 2011 but has seen his classics campaign this season hampered with a knee injury. He looks back to his best out there today, mind.


Magnus Backstedt will be providing the TV commentary on the race once the Eurosport live feed whirrs into action later on. I just spoke to the former Paris-Roubaix winner about his tips for the race. This is what he said: "It's difficult to look beyond Peter Sagan or Philippe Gilbert but it's not an easy race to predict. It wouldn't surprise me if Sky did something today, perhaps Sergio Henao. They're due a classics win."


Brian Bulgac has crashed again, this time with Lotto Belisol team-mate Tosh van der Sande. He's not having the best of luck out there, is Bulgac. To be fair, these windy conditions are not making it easy for the riders. It's typical: the snow finally stops and the sun comes out, but the blustery wind makes it just as unpredictable.


Many of you will be interested to know that Andy Schleck is riding in this year's Amstel Gold Race. Remember him? Yep, the Luxembourger usually excels in the Ardennes Classics and he is a previous winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, which takes place next Sunday. Of course, Schleck in 2013 is very different from the Schleck of 2009. Dogged by injury and a crisis of confidence, the 27-year-old 2010 Tour de France winner is not enjoying the best patch of his career. Today will be training for him.


Today's biggest climb, the Keutenberg, comes with 30km to go and has a maximum gradient of 22%. At 322 metres high, it's taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris - and you wouldn't want to have to ride a bike up that. The clouds have come back in Limberg - it's pretty windy out there too. The leaders still have more than 10 minutes on the bunch but there's a long way to go: they have only just breached the summit of the Wolfsberg climb, the 8th of 34 on the menu.


CRASH: Paul Martens (Blanco), Brian Bulgac (Lotto-Belisol) and Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) are all down but not out - they get back up to continue on their way. Kiryienka is no stranger to the tarmac this season - he crashed heavily on a rain-lashed descent during Paris-Nice last month. Talking of rain, it's stopped. The sun is now back out with the mercury pushing 18 degrees celsius. Wow, spring has finally sprung.


If Peter Sagan wins today he'll become the second youngest rider to win the Amstel Gold Race at 23 years and 78 days. Gerrie Knetemann was 40 days younger when he won the classic for the first time in his career - 11 years ahead of his second win in 1985. The home nation hold the record for the number of wins in this race, with 17 since the race's inception back in 1966. The Dutch haven't had a win since Erik Dekker in 2001, mind. Meanwhile, no British rider has ever stood atop the podium here.


Cannondale, RadioShack, Blanco and Omega Pharma front the peloton at the moment. Soon they'll have to get their act together and start the chase - but there's still a long way to go. Of course, there's another man to watch in the shape of Michael Albasini. Simon Gerrans is Orica-GreenEdge's man today, but the Swiss is good on this kind of terrain and he picked up a win in Paris-Nice earlier in the season.


We now have seven riders almost 11 minutes ahead of the peloton as the two breaks join. They are Tim De Troyer and Nicolas Vogondy (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Alexandre Pliuschin (IAM), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), Arthur Van Overberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen), Klaas Sys (Crelan-Euphony) and Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp).


Those chasing riders are closing in on the leaders so soon we will have a seven-man group out ahead. Sys and Vogondy are about 15 seconds down on the Vansummeren break.


The leaders have passed over the Cauberg for the first time and have zipped through the finish zone at Valkenberg. The peloton is currently edging its way up the Cauberg, 10:25 down on the Vansummeren quintet out ahead.


Who do you think will win? Web readers can have their say below in the comment section. Alternatively, join the discussion on Twitter by pinging your thoughts to @saddleblaze. Some other names to consider aside from those already mentioned: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), Peter Velits (Omega Pharma), Michal Kwiatowski (also Omega Pharma) and Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil).


The two chasing riders are 1:25 down on the five leaders. Earlier it was reported that it was Jelle Vanendert in the chasing group, but it is in fact Nicolas Vogondy of Accent Jobs. The leading Vansummeren quintet now have a huge eight minutes over the peloton. This is interesting.


Some more outsiders to throw into the ring: Simon Geschke (Argos Shimano), Daniel Martin (Garmin), Tony Gallopin (RadioShack), Nicolas Roche and Roman Kreuziger (Saxo Bank), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), and Europcar pair Thomas Voeckler and Davide Malacarne. The latter has been in great form this season, although he is apparently suffering from an illness today.


Movistar have quite a few options today, what with Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, Rui Costa and Andrey Amador all taking to the start. Besides Rodriguez, Katusha have Angel Vicioso as an option. Both BMC and Cannondale have back-up plans should Gilbert or Sagan stumble: the in-form Greg Van Avermaet and Moreno Moser respectively. Lampre have Damiano Cunego as their man, while Gianni Meersman is an outside bet for Omega Pharma. Should Boasson Hagen struggle, Sky have Sergio Henao.


We have five riders out ahead now following that initial attack by Johan Vansummeren. The Garmin rider was joined by Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel), Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs), Alexandr Pliuschin (IAM) and Van Overberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen). They have five minutes over the peloton, with two riders - Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) and Klaas Sys (Crelan) in pursuit.


It's not just a two horse race, of course. Although Sagan and Gilbert really do stand out as favourites, there are lots of others to consider. Australia's Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) loves this kind of hilly terrain, as does Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen and Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez - although the Spaniard may be more focused on defending his Fleche Wallonne crown on Wednesday. Dutch hopes lie with Blanco's Tom Jelte Slagter, who won the Tour Down Under back in January, and Bauke Mollema.


News from the race is still sparse but we'll be bringing you an update as soon as we get one. There has been some showers though after the earlier sunshine. The riders will have to be careful not only with slippery roads but also with the notorious street furniture of the Netherlands. No one wants to do a Yoann Offredo and hit an exit sign at top speed.


One rider stands out head and shoulders above all others in this, the newest of the spring classics. Dutchman Jan Raas won the race five times between 1977 and 1982. No one comes near his record in this race, with four riders tied on two wins: Eddy Merckx (1973, 1975), Gerrie Knetemann (1974, 1985), Rolf Jarmann (1993, 1998) and Philippe Gilbert (2010, 2011).


After the Flandrian Classics, the cobbles are a thing of the past. The Ardennes - which consist of Amstel Gold, Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne and next Sunday's Liege-Bastogne-Liege - are an entirely different kettle of fish. The Netherlands has a reputation for being flat, but in these parts - the region of Vaalserberg - it's very hilly, and this race features 34 climbs including the Keutenberg, the nation's steepest climb with a max gradient of 22%.


We have an early attack from Garmin-Sharp's Johan Vansummeren, winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2011. The Belgian has about 15 seconds over the peloton.


World champion Philippe Gilbert took the rainbow jersey on a near-identical course as Amstel Gold last September. He also won this race in 2010 and 2011 making him a big favourite today. The Belgian is riding into form with second place last week in the Brabantse Pijl semi-classic, where he was beaten by the prolific Peter Sagan. The Slovak sensation will be the man to beat today given his form and pedigree.


They're off! The defending champion of the Amstal Gold Race is Astana's Enrico Gasparotto, but the new course will not act in his favour because the Italian is not the best of sprinters and so that extra run-in to the finish will be tricky. Also, Gasparotti collided with a van during training last week - so the odds are stacked against him.


Under blue skies and bright sun, the riders have gathered at the start in Maastricht and we're about to get under way. Compare these deliciously spring-like conditions to those of the first monument of the season, Milan-San Remo, last month and it's a whole new world.


This is the 48th edition of the Amstel Gold Race – a puncheur's delight with 34 climbs and multiple ascents of the infamous Cauberg. There has been a route change this year, with the finish now coming 1.8km after the final ascent of the Cauberg in the town of Valkenberg – mirroring last year's world championships road race. It's no surprise that Philippe Gilbert, then, is one of the big favourites alongside that man Peter Sagan.


Welcome to live coverage of the Amstel Gold spring classic – the first of three races in the Ardennes taking place over the next eight days. I’m Felix Lowe – aka Eurosport blogger Blazin' Saddles – and I'll be taking you through the race 251km race from start to finish. You can also follow me on Twitter, @saddleblaze