Cycling-All-round show helps Gilbert defend Amstel Gold Race

Reuters

Sun, 17 Apr 18:33:00 2011

Belgium's Philippe Gilbert defended his Amstel Gold Race title with an explosive final sprint to underline his status as a talented all-round racer on Sunday.

Gilbert claimed victory in just over six and a half hours ahead of Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez who had pushed ahead once race leader Andy Schleck of Luxembourg had been caught on the final climb, with Australia's Simon Gerrans third.

"I'm not the best Classics rider in any one area like climbing or sprinting, but I think I'm the best all-rounder, and that's maybe why I won today," Gilbert told reporters after the 260.4 kilometre race.

"I was closely marked but it was easier than I thought. I was on a great day, and as a team we've been building up for this period of the Ardennes Classics for a month now and not thinking of anything else.

"I can't say how impressive my win looked, because what I've done today hasn't really sunk in yet, that'll have to wait until I see the TV coverage."

Victory in the Fleche Brabanconne on Wednesday, a warm-up race for the Amstel Gold, had confirmed the defending champion was on target for Holland's biggest race though the Belgian thanked his team for the win.

"It wasn't just me, it was my team who really kept things under control. After they'd done all the hard work, it was up to me to finish it off as best I could."

Already third in the Milan-San Remo Classic race this season, Gilbert's latest victory reconfirms the 28-year-old as the front-runner for Belgium's two Ardennes Classics, the Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday and Liege-Bastogne-Liege next Sunday.

"Fleche Wallone doesn't really suit me as a course, I might be able to win it but only if I was ahead of the pack and reached the final climb in a small group of riders.

"Liege-Bastogne-Liege, on the other hand, is definitely a race where I expect and hope to shine."

 

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