17/04/16 - 10:22 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 10:22 on 17 April 2016. Find Amstel Gold Race results, calendar, standings and table. Get all the info on the teams to watch.
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Thanks for joining us today and be sure to return on Wednesday for the Fleche-Wallonne and then next Sunday for La Doyenne - Liege-Bastogne-Liege.


Italy's Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani Valvole) won the consolation sprint in the peloton four seconds adrift to take third place from Frenchman Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie). Despite some impressive pacing by his Orica-GreenEdge team, Australian Michael Matthews, one of the pre-race favourites, could only take fifth place.


Gasparotto used all his experience to attack at the right moment on the Cauberg and then use Valgren before kicking clear for his second win in the Amstel Gold Race.


Victory for 34-year-old Italian Enrico Gasparotto of Wanty Groupe-Goubert! The 2012 champion takes the win and that will be an emotional result just weeks after the tragic passing away of Antoine Demoitie.


Gasparotto opens up the sprint - and it's the Italian who takes the win ahead of Valgren!


They may not catch them...


Valgren sets the tampo as BMC lead the chase now - and Vakoc is there too.


Now Jelle Vanendert leads the chase for Lotto Soudal - they trail the two leaders by about 30 metres.


Gasparotto leads now but the gap is small. Michael Valgren of Tinkoff joins the Italian - they have a large gap now!


Wellens will be caught soon - two riders, and then others follow... It's Gasparotto!


Here we go - Wellens starts the climb in Valkenberg... out of the saddle but already it's down to 12 seconds...


Will it be enough? Wellens will arrive at the foot of the Cauberg a spent man, but with around 18 seconds to play with...


Alabasini is back on the front now for Orica-GreenEdge and is burying himself on the downhill to help reel in the lone leader, Tim Wellens.


Wellens now has 17 seconds as Kreuziger and Vanmarcke are reeled in. Now Astana come to the front alongside Serry of Etixx. Matthews looks a little concerned...


Wellens in time trial mode here. He's got 12 seconds as he rides this plateau ahead of the drop to the foot of the Cauberg. Some other teams are taking up the responsibility for the chase - LottoNL-Jumbo attack through Sep Vanmarcke but looks like he will be pulled back.


Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) catches and passes Kreuziger near the summit. This is a big attack and he's opened up a gap...


Attack by Roman Kreuziger, the 2013 champion. The Tinkoff rider opens a small gap up, but surely Orica-GreenEdge will neutralise this one as Albasini peels off, his work for the day done...


On to the Bemelerberg now and Larry Warbasse, the big American unit from IAM Cycling, puts in an attack - impressive seeing that he was there in the break earlier. Boasson Hagen has now been distanced...


Edvald Boasson Hagen of Dimension Data is back with this main group...


Lampre, Ag2R-La Mondiale and LottoNL-Jumbo have numbers on the front. The tempo is steady and enough to dissuade anyone making a telling attack. Two more climbs to go...


Of course, some of those starred riders are already out of this race... Czech national champion Pets Vakoc is near the back of the pack with Mollema on his wheel. GreenEdge have four on the front: Hayman, Albasini, Gerrans and Matthews...


STAR RATINGS: ***** Matthews, Kwiatkowski **** Vakoc, Boasson Hagen, Henao, Costa *** Gilbert, Rodriguez, Alaphilippe, Gerrans ** Sanchez, Gallopin, McCarthy, Gasparotto, Clarke * Dumoulin, Barguil, Gesink, Vuillermoz, Mollema

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CAUBERG FINALE: Between 2003 and 2012 the finish was at the top of the Cauberg climb but a redesign saw the finish move to the hamlet of Berg en Terblijt, 1.8km from the summit, to mirror the conclusion of the 2012 world championships in Valkenburg. Many believe the move pointless because little can happen over the best part of 2,000 flat metres after such an explosive ascent. But there's certainly a case in support of the change if you look at the very contrasting finales we have witnessed since 2013, when Czech climber Roman Kreuziger managed to stay clear after being part of a break and soloed to victory by 22 seconds. Gilbert won the next edition by surging clear on the Cauberg – just as he did in the world championships six months earlier – while last year saw the rainbow jersey of Michal Kwiatkowski sprint to victory in an 18-man group.


Chapeau Mat Hayman - the Paris-Roubaix champion has fought back on and is currently pacing for his Orica-GreenEdge team-mates.


It's pretty much over for the break, who are about to be swept up as the road widens. Pieter Serry of Etixx is the first of the main pack to join them, but now we have around 70 riders together on the front of this race. Game on.


Another former world champion, Rui Costa of Lampre-Merida, is near the front now. He's definitely one to watch. GreenEdge have two riders on the front with Sky's Poels.


Just 20 seconds now for the five leaders, who have dropped Grellier... They're on the Geulhemmerberg for the third and final time - after this, just two more climbs.


And it's curtains for the defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski too - the Pole has been tailed off so Team Sky will now have to play with Lars Petter Nordhaug instead, or Wout Poels, or Ben Swift even.


It's getting quite fiesty on the front of the pack - although it's definitely all over for both Gilbert and Dumoulin, who are well off the back now. Jungels and Battaglin go over the top with a small gap over the pack, with those six escapees about 15 seconds further clear.


The six leaders are onto the Cauberg and it's De Vreese who takes it up. Grellier is struggling to hold on. Further back, Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels (Trek) and Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) have attacked from the pack.


Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant Alpecin) is the latest big name to be dropped by the pack.


Not long now until the peniltimate ascent of the Cauberg. LottoNl-Jumbo, Movistar, Cannondale and BMC are all present on the front of the pack.


The gap is down to 38 seconds now as the 80-strong peloton (which has thinned out somewhat) continue its pursuit of the remnants of those two earlier moves.


Some big names have been dropped from the pack on the Keutenberg, including triple winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Norwegian national champion Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) and last week's winner at Roubaix, Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge).


Attack by Bert-Jan Lindeman of LottoNL-Jumbo on a severly steep climb - it's the Keutenberg, the steepest climb of the race, and his move forces many riders to leap out of the peloton, including Jan Bakelandts. They have a BMC rider with them and they've caught van der Sande. The leaders now have just one minute to play with.


Chapeau Fabien Grellier - the 21-year-old neo-pro from Direct Energie is battling to hold on to the leading group. He's already been dropped but is back on as ht tackles yet another climb.


Team Sky have really dropped back now - they seem happy to let other team's pick up the chase. The rain has stopped, the sun is out, but there's a lot of water on the roads. The gaps are 58 and 1:18 now, so perfectly poised for the finale.


We're onto the Fromberg - 1.5km at 4% - and it's all comning back together. The leaders have 1:10 over the chasing group, with the pack just 25 seconds back. Team Sky combined to reel in Albasini, and LottoNL-Jumbo have countered - but to no avail. They're sweeping up some of the early break now, including that man Kevin Reza.


ATTACK: Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) pings off the front of the main pack, surely paving the way for one of the team's two favourites - Matthews and Gerrans.


Didier and Berlato have been dropped by that second group - the succession of climbs are taking their toll, as is the wet weather. Grellier is dropping back from the lead group.


So, the 11-man leading group is now just seven-strong: Howes, Warbasse, De Vreese, Devriendt, Montaguti, Bono and Grellier. The remainder has joined the chasing group, which is now seven strong: Meersman, Berlato, Reza, Didier, Cerny, Bonifazio, Van der Sande and Thurau.


Kevin Reza (FDJ) has been dropped from the leading group on the Kruisberg and will have to fight back on on the descent. The leaders have 1:20 over the chasing pack, on the back of which Bonifazio has been firmly rooted. The main pack is another minute back. Alex Howes put in a dig on the front but the American was reeled in.


Like Voeckler, Canadian veteran Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo) is suffering out there off the back of the peloton.


Update on the Stef Clement crash: the Dutchman has withdrawn from the race but looks to be stable.


Thomas Voeckler of Direct Energie is struggling to stick with the pace of the peloton on one of these climbs. The French veteran likes the Ardennes, but is clearly not feeling it today. Meanwhile, his team-mate Fabien Grellier leads the pace for the break up the same hill - the Gulpenberg. They lead the chasers by 1:25 with the pack a further minute back.


Now the rain comes! There's an almighty downpour and it looks really miserable there.


Astana's Andrei Grivko is riding in pursuit of the four-man chasing group. His team doesn't really have a big card to play today, although Italy's Fabio Aru is there in a rare classics outing - no doubt preparing for Liege-Bastogne-Liege next weekend.

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The Cauberg is the most famous of those climbs, although the first two passages are often about as dramatic as an episode of Emmerdale (in the British soap's sedate, pre-airplane crash guise). But then things get feisty with the third, penultimate ascent marking the start of the final circuit with 21km remaining. The final ascent often proves decisive – and although the 1.3km climb only has an average gradient of 5% it does feature a 12% ramp where weary legs can implode at the business end of a competitive race. All in all, it's a technically demanding course that attracts crashes like a carcass attracts flies – a race where local knowledge is primordial for survival, let alone competitiveness. That said, you're only going to win it if you have the requisite qualities: an ability to climb fast and sprint even quicker.

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ROUTE: Coming at a rate of one every seven kilometres, the 34 hills that give the Amstel Gold its Toblerone-esque profile range between 500m and three kilometres long, and many of them are tackled two, three, sometimes four times during the 258km race. Starting in Maastrict, the confusing squiggle of a route (which includes a brief foray into Germany) dances around the countryside on narrow roads and cuts through suburban areas peppered with the kind of road furniture designed to keep local drivers and pedestrians safe, but hardly conducive to bike racing. Crashes and climbs are not the only obstacles – potential or real – separating the riders from a good ride and a DNF: the winds in the area are notoriously strong and occasionally riders can experience a headwind on one ascent and then a tailwind on the same climb less than an hour later.


The four-man chasing group is making some real in-roads here - they are 1:45 down on the leaders, with the pack another 1:20 back.


Yet another climb for the leading group: the Loorberg, which has an average gradient 5.5%, which is the 25th or 34 climbs. They have 2:10 over the chasing group and three minutes over the pack.


Here's a video of that terrible crash by Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) in the neutral zone this morning... The Italian broke his nose and needed facial surgery after his bizarre fall. Heal up quick, Fabio! Of course, after the fandango last week about disc brakes (which have now been banned by the UCI) this incident surely proves there's grounds to ban rim brakes too...


The chasing riders are Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep), Tosh van de Sander (Lotto-Soudal), Bjorn Thurau (Wanty) and Nicolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo).


CORRECTION: I said that we had six former winners here today, but there's a seventh in Italian veteran Damiano Cunego, the Nippo-Vini Fantini rider who won Amstel Gold in 2008. He joins Rebellin, Schleck, Gilbert (x3), Gasparotto, Kreuziger and Kwiatkowski as former winners in this race.


CRASH: Stef Clement (IAM Cycling) hits the deck at speed, as does a rider at Nippo-Vini Fantini, Gregor Bole. Nasty. It looks like neither rider will be able to continue today.


Etixx-QuickStep, Trek-Segafredo and Wanty Groupe-Goubert have joined Lotto Soudal in this chasing group, with two pairs of riders chasing them down from the peloton. The leading 11-man group is still 2:50 ahead.


After a brief shower, Lotto Soudal make an early move from the peloton as one of their riders dances clear, with two in pursuit. This race needed that. The phoney war has come to an end, now time for some action!


Here was that crash for Rodriguez a bit earlier...


Many riders have their shades and rain jackets prepared ahead of the expected rain. Rodriguez is back with the main pack after that crash, while the lead of the 11-man break is still at the 3:30 mark. Australian Luke Durbridge is on the front of the peloton for Orica-GreenEdge among the sea of black and blue of Team Sky.


CRASH: And it's one of the big favourites, Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha, who seems to go down in a town after clipping the curb. The Spanish veteran is Katusha's main man for this race, along with Belgian Jurgen van den Broeck and Spaniards Alberto Losada and Angel Vicioso.


And it's getting worse...


The rain hasn't come just yet but this gives you an idea of what the riders are heading into...


Of course, one of the big favourites outside Kwiatkowski, Gerrans and Matthews, is the triple winner Philippe Gilbert, Mr Cauberg himself. The Belgian leads a BMC team that also includes Ben Hermans, Samuel Sanchez and Silvan Dillier. But there are big question marks over his form after a bizarre training incident resulted in Gilbert breaking a finger following an altercation with a drunken driver. He had a metal rod inserted in his finger, and it remains to be seen how he can perform today.


News in that Alexis Vuillermoz has abandoned after that earlier crash. A blow for Ag2R-La Mondiale, for he was one of the French team's protected riders. They also have Jan Bakelants, Christophe Riblon and former Europcar puncheur Cyril Gautier - nonw of whom have the same pizzazz as Vuillermoz.


The riders of LottoNL-Jumbo have picked up some musettes of food and drink. Being Dutch, this is a huge race for the team, whose hopes are on the shoulders of Robert Gesink and Enrico Battaglin. Fourth in Roubaix, Sep Vanmarcke is here but this is not his ideal terrain. Mike Teunissen crashed earlier today but it was nothing serious, while WIlco Keldeman could be one to watch after riding well in the Tour of the Basque Country.


Some very ominous rain clouds on the horizon making their way over towards the race... could we be about to see a huge downpour?


Giant-Alpecin are still looking for their first win of the season - largely because of that horrific training accident that wiped our so many of their riders, including classics specialist John Degenkolb, who is still yet to ride a race this year. Today they will put their hopes of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin and Frenchman Warren Barguil.


A former would-be Tour de France winner thinks he can spot Team Sky's tactics today...


The leaders pass through the town of Valkenberg for the second occasion ahead of the second of four ascents of the Cauberg - a 1.8km climb at an average gradient of 5%. Their lead is 3:25.


The last six winners of Amstel Gold are riding today: Michael Kwiatkowski (2015), Philippe Gilbert (2014, 2011, 2010), Roman Kreuziger (2013) and Enrico Gasparotto (2012). The 2006 winner Frank Schleck is also there, as is the 2004 winner Davide Rebellin. So six former winners in total.


CRASH: Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2R-La Mondiale) hits the deck at a tight suburban corner. The Frenchman is one of the dark horses for today's win following his victory at Mur-de-Bretagne in last year's Tour de France. It looks like an Orica-GreenEdge rider also went down with Vuillermoz there. The pace slows afterwards as numerous riders take the opportunity to answer a call of nature.


It's worth adding that this is the first time Gerrans and Matthews have raced together since the world championships last September, where they fell out somewhat while jousting for leadership in the Australian squad.


HISTORY: It's hardly the pre-pubescent adolescent that is Strade Bianche but the Amstel Gold is no grizzled grown-up. Only established in 1966, the year England won the World Cup and France's Lucien Aimar ended the Jacques Anquetil era by pipping Dutchman Jan Janssen in the Tour de France, the Amstel Gold was created as the Dutch answer to the Italian, French and Belgian monuments. It's hardly the pre-pubescent adolescent that is Strade Bianche but the Amstel Gold is no grizzled grown-up. Only established in 1966, the year England won the World Cup and France's Lucien Aimar ended the Jacques Anquetil era by pipping Dutchman Jan Janssen in the Tour de France, the Amstel Gold was created as the Dutch answer to the Italian, French and Belgian monuments.


The peloton is all strung out now that Team Sky have started to up the tempo a little. Let's take a look at Orica-GreenEdge next, who include in their team last week's surprise winner of Paris-Roubaix, Mat Hayman. Joining the Aussie veteran there are two of the outright favourites today: Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans, who both have that blend of climbing ability and sprinting prowess needed to win such a punchy event. Britain's Adam Yates is also there, as is Swiss Michael Albasini, who is a tidy rider on this kind of terrain.


We're into the final 100 kilometres now and the 11-man break has a lead of 3:10 over the pack.


Movistar have an interesting roster today, with former Katusha rider Dani Moreno - usually pacing Joaquim Rodriguez in these kinds of punchy races - featuring alongside the Izagirre brothers, Gorka and Ion. There's also the cobbles king Imanol Erviti, following his top tens on both Flanders and Roubaix, sprinter Juan Jose Lobato, who knows how to handle hills, and Italian Giovanni Visconti.


Etixx-QuickStep will be keen to keep up their winning ways after Petr Vakoc's victory in Brabantse Pijl last week. After a torrid cobbles campaign, the Belgian team have sent a strong roster here today, including that man Vakoc, last year's Ardennes revelation Julian Alaphilippe, German powerhouse Tony Martin, Belgians Pieter Serry, Gianni Meersman and Julien Vermote, Luxembourg's Bob JUngels and Italian Matteo Trentin.


The leaders have just crested the 16th climb of the day, the Gulpenerberg. We have 18 more climbs, including three more ascents of the famous Cauberg, so synonymous with this race.


It's a sunny but cold day in the southern Netherlands. The lack of water on the road won't mean this race will be without incident: the notorious road furniture and narrow lanes make Amstel Gold quite a potentially perilous affair.


Team Sky are controlling the front of the peloton, which trails the break by some four minutes. Their main man today is the defending champion, Michal Kwiatkowski - the Pole won this race last year as world champion, for his former team Etixx-QuickStep. Sky have a strong roster of riders to support Kwiatkowski, including Sergio Henao, Wout Poels and Peter Kennaugh.


Spaghetti'ing its way around the hills and valleys of southern Holland in an intricate web of road furniture-assisted mayhem, the 258km race is characterised by its succession of short and sharp leg-sapping climbs and is nowadays synonymous with the Cauberg, the climb whose fourth passage comes shortly before the finish. After the sprinter's classic that is Milan-San Remo and the two cobbled behemoths of Flanders and Roubaix, Amstel Gold marks the entry of the climbing and stage-racing specialists into the classics fray for what is a true puncheur's paradise of a race.


Race info: The region of Limburg is no more part of the Ardennes as Roubaix is part of Flanders – but just as the finish town of the Hell of the North is readily associated with Flandrian exploits and Belgian-style cobblestones, the Amstel Gold Race often falls under the Ardennes umbrella, especially coming so soon after the Brabantse Pijl semi-classic. It's no surprise then that the Amstel Gold Race is seen as the curtain-raiser to Ardennes Week, which continues with Wednesday's Fleche Wallonne until its climax next Sunday with the fourth Monument of the season, Liege-Bastogne-Liege.


More news on that crash involving Fabio Felline: the Italian apparently got his fingers stuck between his forks and spokes before going over the handlebars and breaking his nose. He's currently having facial surgery but is scheduled to be released from hospital this evening. Nasty. Get well soon, Fabio!


Right, we pick up the race LIVE now and that 11-man group have a lead of 4'10 over the peloton. They've done the famous Cauberg climb once so far but still have three more ascents to do - the second with 21km remaining ahead of a final circuit, and the last climb just 1.8km from the finish.


Eventually an 11-man group managed to extricate itself from the pack after 35-odd kilometres. They were: Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurent Didier (Trek), Alex Howes (Cannondale), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R), Matteo Bono (Lampre), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Lawrence Warbasse (IAM), Josef Cerny (CCC) , Fabien Grellier (Direct Energy) and Giacomo Berlato (Nippo).


There was a four-man break but it came to nothing. Other attempts to break clear were also thwarted so it was still all together as the race hit the 30km mark.


No early break stuck this morning as news filtered through the Belgian youngster Tiesj Benoot of Lotto Soudal abandoned the race early due to illness.


One non-starter today was Astana's Lieuwe Westra, who pulled out yesterday because of flu. There was also a nasty crash in the neutral zone which ended Fabio Felline's race - an early setback for Trek-Segafredo.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the Amstel Gold Race, the first classic of 'Ardennes Week' - a 258km rolling ride over 34 punchy hills in southern Holland.