April 20/09 9:03 am - Christian Meier Amstel Gold Report
Posted by Editor on 04/20/09
Canadian national champion Christian Meier forwarded us his report on the Amstel Gold race held yesterday (also posted on his and Svein Tuft's website bikingbros.com). In it he points out that he was actually NOT a DNF, finishing 85th - his position was swapped with Garmin-Slipstream team mate Ricardo Van Der Velde.
We arrived at the start town of Maastricht on a cool but sunny Sunday morning for what would be the start of my first major classic, the 260km Amstel Gold race. I was slightly anxious, yet overall was feeling surprisingly calm for the first of the three Ardennes classics this week. I have always dreamed of doing these prestigious climbers classics, having read endlessly about them in my favorite cycling magazines as a slightly younger man; the fans, the history, the grueling courses were all things that made me fall for them.
The Dutch fans were already swarming the team bus before it had even come to a complete halt; with three of our Dutch riders racing their home race we were pretty popular, and the small start town had become overrun with with cycling fanatics, some just keeping their distance and observing while the other more fanatics are seeking anything they can get their hands on, be it bottles, caps, jerseys, gloves or maybe this Cliff bar wrapper I’m about to throw out. OK maybe that last one was a bit extreme but you get the point.
At 10:15 sharp the pistol fired and we rolled out of town and before you could scoot your way to the front the breakaway had already darted off the front, but with only 6 guys up the road it was never going to be a real threat.
For myself the plan was to slip into the early break only if it went right in front of me and if I didn’t get there I was then to go into conservation mode and save everything to help Martijn and Ryder in the end. Besides a small crash and a couple missed feeds everything went pretty well and I was in the front until I started to fade a bit at about 245km. But we had done what we could and Ryder was still somewhere ahead. As my group rode up the final finishing climb in Valkenbeurg I was mesmerized by the amount of fans, all loudly cheering, clapping, singing, waving massive Dutch, Flemish and even Canadian flags.
It was a great feeling finishing my first Amstel, though later they would give my team mate Ricardo my finishing position and put me as DNF, a little bit frustrating as I was actually proud finishing the race in my first go, wearing the maple leaf jersey. It was a pretty cool experience and I was totally empty after the 6h 40min race, but all I could think was “can’t wait till next year”.