Simon Gerrans and Matt White admitted that the strongest rider won Amstel Gold Race with Philippe Gilbert breaking clear on the Cauberg to net his third win in the race. The race also marked Gerrans’ third, third place in the race after he participated in the final set of attacks in the race. Despite seeing Gilbert wind up for his unmatchable move the Australian was unable to match the BMC rider’s power.
“Gilbert was the strongest in the race. We saw that when he attacked on the Cauberg that we was strong enough to maintain that until the finish,” Gerrans said at the finish.
“We knew that there was a tailwind on the climb so whoever was clear was going to be very difficult to catch. We were racing for second and third. I thought I was well placed and tried to follow Gilbert but that was really impossible.”
Orica GreenEdge came into the race with Gerrans as their designated leader. The Tour Down Under winner had struggled for fitness in the build up to the race and had missed Milan-San Remo due to illness. However Matt White was confident that his rider - who is out of contract at the end of the season – would be in contention for the win.
The Australian team were in the thick of the action with Pieter Weening joining a dangerous move inside the final 40 kilometres that included Thomas Voeckler and Greg Van Avermaet. It took the pressure off the team in the run-into the final ascent of the Cauberg and when the move was finally shut down GreenEdge positioned Gerrans near the front.
He was able to respond to moves from Samuel Sanchez and Michal Kwiatkowski and even managed his own attack as the leading group began to splinter but there was no response when Gilbert swept passed and the Australian was forced to fight for a podium spot.
“At the end of the day the best bike rider won the race. It’s predicable and we knew that we had to go with the move whether it was Gilbert or Valverde. No one could match that move from Gilbert on the climb,” White told Cyclingnews at the finish.
“We came here to win, that’s for sure, but third place at this level is a very good result.”
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Content with third the team were certainly buoyed by Michael Matthew’s 12th place. Matthews is the only rider on the team to win in Europe so far this season and was riding his first Amstel Gold Race. He was unable to follow the main attack in the finale but finished in a group that contained last year’s winner Roman Kreuziger and world champion Rui Costa.
“Matthews has the ability to win Amstel Gold. He’s only 22 or 23 and it’s a race that suits him,” White added.
“This is good experience for him and in the future this is a race that has his name written all over it.”