Gilbert’s Amstel Gold

BELGIAN Philippe Gilbert launched a blistering hill sprint in the last 500 metres of the race to claim the Amstel Gold title in the Netherlands today.

His perfectly-timed charge up the Cauberg in Valkenburg gave his burgeoning reputation as a classics rider a boost and his team, Omega Pharma-Lotto. their first win of the season.

The 27-year-old finished ahead of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin); Astana’s Enrico Gasparotto was third.

The field was weakened when Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Sastre and Bradley Wiggins were among 13 riders forced to pull out of the race after travel plans were ruined by the volcanic ash cloud.

Double classics winner Fabian Cancellara, Lance Armstrong, and Tom Boonen had decided not to tackle the 258km race.

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