Blaak: Amstel Gold is one of my most precious victories

Boels Dolmans rider takes her first one-day win as world champion

Chantal Blaak took out her first one-day victory as the reigning World Champion on Sunday, winning the Amstel Gold Race and taking over the UCI Women's WorldTour in front of her home crowd.

The world champion showed her race craft when she joined the decisive move just after the steep Keutenberg climb with almost 60km to go, and then proved to be the strongest of eight riders who quickly got a big gap as the first peloton chose not to continue to chase as a another group fought to regain contact.

"It was instinct that I went into that group, it was not a planned move," explained Blaak. "It was a good scenario for us. I heard we had two minutes, and we knew this was a really strong break. And then you need to finish it."

Boels Dolmans had several possible contenders, including last year's solo winner Anna van der Breggen in the peloton behind, but decided to back Blaak in the break.

"You're the only one from your team amongst the eight in the breakaway. I got the trust from my teammates in the peloton behind and from the team car. Everyone in my team is strong enough to win, then it was in my hands, and I was the one who had to do it today. Yes, then you have pressure, but I also kind of like that."

In the break, Blaak was a marked woman. The rainbow jersey of the reigning world champion always attracts attention; even more so when in a break of eight riders in the finale of a one-day race. Blaak made the most of this situation by going on the attack, splitting the group on the penultimate ascent of the Cauberg with 20 km to go.

"It's also good when you are the strongest," Blaak explained. "Then the others have to attack, and they have to beat me. I wanted to test my legs to see how strong I was compared to the rest of the break. I was a bit wary of the other girls. You never know what the rest are going to do tactic-wise. And when I attacked, I found out that I was maybe the strongest or at least one of the strongest. Then I knew, it's not my job to attack, they have to do something to beat me today."

On the final lap, nobody wanted to make a move too early. An attack by Riejanne Markus (WaowDeals) was quickly shut down by Blaak herself, then everybody waited for the Cauberg. Here, Blaak followed the attacks by Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) and Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), coming onto the final straight with these two.

"When there were only three of us, I knew that there was a very good chance for me to win the sprint. I know Lucinda [Brand] very well, of course, we train together a lot. So I knew that she would launch early, and that was perfect for me."

Following on from Anna van der Breggen in 2017, the women's Amstel Gold Race has now seen two Dutch winners. And this was something that made the victory even sweeter for Blaak.

"It was very special. I have so many fans around the course, and I could hear my name so many times, that was really good for the morale. And it is great to win in the rainbow jersey in front of a home crowd. I really think that this was one of my most precious victories."

THE HOLY WEEK - Excerpt from Cyclingnews Films on Vimeo.

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