Out Of The Saddle

The Amstel Gold Race is the youngest one
of the 4 Spring classics that take place in April.
With the first edition held in 1966, a new and
completely different race was added to the list of classics.
With several hills that had to be climbed once or twice,
it was quite a hard and difficult race to win.
In 1975, with a total of 20 climbs to face that day,
there were 138 riders that took off in the hills of Limburg.
At the climb of the Keutenberg Eddy Merckx placed an attack
and Freddy Maertens was the only one that could follow him.
Together they took off and not one of the other riders saw
them again that day, well at least not until after the finish.
Soon the couple had more than two minutes.
Everyone knew it was going to be a fight between the two Belgians.
Maertens follows most of the time, while Merckx leads.
When they climb the Cauberg for the 2nd time, Merckx attacks.
He comes out of his saddle and rides away from Maertens.
Maertens tries to stay with Merckx, but has to give him a few metres.
As the gap is getting bigger, Maertens gets several pushes from people 
who were standing along the road, cheering for their favourites.
Without any success though.
Merckx gets back in his saddle and turns his head
to see if Maertens is still in his wheel.
He knows he can break Maertens at this point.
When he realises he has a few metres, he comes out of his saddle
again and in a few seconds the gap is more than 10 metres.
Maertens doesn’t give up and tries to get back.
He’s closing the gap a bit, but he never finds the wheel of Merckx again.
For the 2nd time in his career, Merckx is the winner of the Amstel Gold Race.
Maertens becomes 2nd at less than 15 seconds.
He was fed up with the fact that he didn’t win.
Full of disappointment he crossed the finish line.
However, the following year he tried again and took revanche.
He went to the finish all by himself and won the Amstel Gold Race of 1976.

© Courtesy of Marcel Segessemann


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