T-Mobile finally got the press room internet going, and about 50 journos are typing away like mad monkeys here in the Amstel press room, writing the leads for their race coverage. But not PEZ – nope. We’re going live as the bunch approaches the Cauberg for the second of 3 passes – wait here they come -I’ll be back in a few minutes…
The day started fine as our hotel, strategically selected by Velo Classic Tours was situated just a couple hundred meters from the actual race start. After another fine breakfast that included some tasty Ducth cheese, it was a short walk to pick up my creds and join the fray.
• T-Mobile and of course Rabobank are big sponsors of the race, in case you wondered…
• It’s 900 AM in the Grotemarkt – start point in Maastricht. The teams cars are here, the busses are nearby, and the fans are filling the square… but no sign of the riders yet.
• Danilo “Killer” DiLuca stays cool at the start- even when swarmed as he rolls of the sign-in ramp. The former winner is big news and big fave here today.
• Dutch champ Michael Boogerd lines up for his last Amstel Gold, and as the homeboy fave, he’s fired up for one last swing at victory.
• Being Paulo Bettini must be a trip. You should have seen the furor as he tried to sneak into sign in… It’s like he Elvis.
• The gun fires and they’re off – Stefen Wesemann is front and center.
• Famous photog Graham Watson jumps onto his moto – “tally ho!”
• The race will finish in 6 hours, but the fans are settled in and ready for the 3 passages up the final climb Cauberg… “barman – another round!”
• Here’s the Cauberg at 11 am, peaceful now but you know the storm is coming.
• At 2:55 the break came through the Cauberg for the second pass – and the lead group is down from 5 to 4, including Bonnaire (Bouygues), Musiol, (Wesienhof), Rooyakers (Skil), Stubbe (ChocJaq).
• Next through came Cor Vos’ pro fotog Marketa Navratilova, who handed Cor about 5 flash cards full of photos for processing, in exchange for a bagged lunch to eat on the fly.
• And just around 3PM the bunch chased through – looking a lot more serious than the fist pass (When both DiLuca and Bettini were the last two guys through). The 4:10 gap should start coming down pretty fast now… It’s down to 2:50 as I write this.
Stay tuned to PEZ for our full race report later today – !
PEZCYCLING is traveling with
Velo Classic Tours through the Ardennes Classics – and you should too.