Author: Lee Rodgers
Published: 04/13/12 14:12
Normally one would say that for a race like the Amstel Gold Classic, BMC Racing’s Philippe Gilbert would be the favorite but the Belgian, who won so brilliantly and so often last season, has struggled to find that same form this year.
Last season he began a run of four wins with victory in the Brabantse Pijl but Gilbert does not look the rider he was 12 months ago. He finished 12th in the very recent Brabantse Pijl race but was more than 2 minutes down on winner Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).
"The only goal I have right now is finding back my form from last year,” said Gilbert. “We'll see if it comes or not. It's not fun right now because it's hard to analyze what is going wrong. There can be a lot of reasons. Last year has been extremely hard – both mentally and physically – and there was the team switch. It's normal that you get a whiplash after such a year. 'm not hiding away. I'm right where I belong to be."
The ‘team switch’ is an interesting point, as the BMC Racong team looked so well suited to the Classics on paper yet has failed to perform so far. However, only a fool would discount Gilbert in this race, even in light of his current form.
Last year’s 3rd place man Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge) moved on from Sky and has so far had an excellent 2012, with the overall GC win at the Tour Down Under, victory in the Australian road race championships and a splendid win at Milan-San Remo. His team is not the strongest but he has shown before that he can lead from the front. A big danger man.
Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) was 2nd last year and is a rider who can win this race. He’s been a little under the radar this season but winning two stages at the Tour of the Basque Country and one at Tirreno-Adriatico show that he is definitely in decent form. He’s been close to winning a Classic before and must be frustrated, but is a firm favorite once again.
Rabobank’s Robert Gesink is targeting the only Classic to be held in his home nation and is hoping to improve on his 9th place of last season. “I'm going in fully ready for the Amstel Gold Race,” said the Rabobank rider. “I’m aiming to improve on my position from last year.”
Gesink also has a very good team with Lars Boom and Matti Breschel in the squad to help out and even head up the road if he falters.
Damiano Cunego of Lampre-ISD is another with big hopes. The 30 year old is hoping to kick-start his career with a win in the race he was victorious in in 2008, and also has a strong team to back him up, with Michele Scarponi there to support him as well as Daniel Lloyd.
Others to watch:
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)
Filippo Pozatto (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia)
Thomas Voeckler (Europcar)
Cadel Evans (BMC)
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Author: Lee RodgersPublished: 04/13/12 14:12