Gasparotto wins Amstel Gold Race in two-up sprint

Valgren second, Colbrelli third as favourites slip up

Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) rolled back the years to win Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The Italian attacked on the final ascent of the Cauberg and was quickly joined by Michael Valgren (Tinkoff Team). The pair traded turns on the front before Gasparotto's experience and faster finish shone through with the 2012 winner of the race taking the victory in a two-man sprint. Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani – CSF) led the peloton home in third place with pre-race favourite Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge) finishing in fifth.

Gasparotto, 34, came into the race as one of the underdogs but he and Valgren were the only riders either capable or willing to attack on the final ascent of the race. The Italian first had to catch Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), who had attacked with less than 10 kilometres to go and built up a lead close to 20 seconds before the foot of the final climb.

When Gasparotto attacked only Valgren could answer with the Tinkoff rider bridging up just as the road began to plateau. Lotto Soudal launched a desperate late chase but Valgren effectively sealed the race's fate by taking a long, crucial pull on the front with 800 meters to go. That effectively ended the hopes of those behind but allowed Gasparotto almost an armchair ride to the line. With the win in sight the Italian came around the Dane's wheel.

The win was an emotional one for Gasparotto and his Wanty teammates for several reasons after Antoine Demoitie lost his life in a crash during Gent-Wevelgem.

"When I won in 2012, I did most of the Cauberg with the 39 instead of 53, and I decided to do the same today. I almost crashed at the corner at the bottom and then I moved up to the front. Nobody was attacking so I went with the 39 and then I switched to the 53 when I came to the old finish," Gasparotto said at the finish.

"I was lucky that Valgren came with me, I wouldn't have won if I'd been alone because there was a super strong headwind over the top. I was maybe lucky that it wasn't Roman Kreuziger too, because we would have played a bit before the sprint. Instead Valgren was happy to pull to make sure he came second at least, and I was able to wait and wait for the sprint."

How it unfolded

Amstel Gold Race's reputation as one of the most fraught events on the calendar precedes it, and the peloton hadn't even left the neutralised zone in Maastricht before the day's first crash, with Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) forced to abandon with a facial injury after he came down before passing the city limits.

Once the flag dropped, there was a typically brisk start to proceedings, and the high speed lasted for much of the opening hour, as it took some time for the day's early break to form, with both Astana and BMC quick to close down some of the initial moves. The searing pace was enough, meanwhile, to convince an ill Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) to bring the curtain down on his ill-starred Classics campaign.

After 35 kilometres, on the approach to the day's fourth climb, the Bergsweg, a breakaway attempt finally gained some traction, with Laurens de Vreese (Astana), Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurent Didier (Trek), Alex Howes (Cannondale), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-La Mondiale), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Josef Cerny (CCC-Sprandi), Fabien Grellier (Direct Energie) and Giacomo Berlato (Nippo-Vini Fantini) forging clear.

The 11-man move had already built up a lead in excess of five minutes by the time they crossed the finish line for the first time with 192 kilometres remaining, after the first of four ascents of the Cauberg. As the climbs and kilometres ticked down thereafter, the break's lead was slowly pegged back by a peloton, where Team Sky – with defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski in mind – were particularly active, and the gap was down to 3:30 by the time the 11 leaders came over the Cauberg for the second time with 86 kilometres remaining.

A crash for Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) gave a timely reminder of the dangers the tight Dutch roads offered but up front the race began to take shape with a four-man move comprising of Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Niccolò Bonifazio (Trek Segafredo), Gianni Meersman (Etixx QuickStep) and Björn Thurau (Wanty) skipped clear.

The Trek rider was merely a passenger but the intent from the remaining three was enough to distance the peloton and swallow up a number of the early break once cracks began to show in the leading group.

Team Sky was still a presence on the front of the peloton, with the race entering the final 40 kilometres. The break still had a two-minute lead but the peloton were becoming restless and Michael Albasini (Orica) launched clear.

The Swiss rider's antics merely inflamed the situation with Sky chasing him down before the foot of the Fromberg. LottoNL and BMC Racing duelled on the front and the increased pace saw the Van der Sande group caught at the summit.

Any rider with convictions of winning the race needed to be near the front so it was a major surprise to see Philippe Gilbert (BMC) distanced with still 25km and two more ascents of the Cauberg to go.

Up ahead the remnants of the break – they were down to just five – crested the penultimate race to the top of the Cauberg with 15 seconds as Bob Jungels (Etixx QuickStep) and Enrico Battaglin (Lotto NL) spearheaded yet another counter attack. One would assume that Team Sky would take control but within a blink of an eye their leader and the defending champion, Kwiatkowski, had been dropped. Instead Orica, still with Mat Hayman and Albasini, drove the peloton on.

The break was eventually caught with 14km to go but it wasn't until Roman Kreuziger attacked did the race spark into life again. Like Gasparotto, the Tinkoff rider was once a champion in this race and his move with 8km to race had a certain plausibility to it. However Wellens made Kreuziger look like he was standing still as he powered clear.

The Belgian had timed his move well and as hesitation crept in the quickly established a 20 second lead. He needed at least that in order to give himself a chance as he took the left hand turn onto the Cauberg for the final time but one last pull from Albasini ended his chances on the lower slopes.

Gasparotto, meanwhile, was lurking near the front of the peloton. His attack only created a few meters but it was enough and when Valgren made contact the pair had all they needed to make it to the line.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert6:18:02 
2Michael Valgren (Den) Tinkoff Team  
3Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF0:00:04 
4Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie  
5Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
6Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step  
7Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
8Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team  
9Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
10Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
11Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
12Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team  
13Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
14Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
15Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin  
16Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
17Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida  
18Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
19Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ  
20Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team  
21Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
22Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
23Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
24Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team  
25Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal  
26Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
27Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
28Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky  
29Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky  
30Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
31Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:08 
32Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:34 
33Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data  
34Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
35Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling0:00:41 
36Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
37Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
38Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Alpecin  
39Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge  
40Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
41Wouter Poels (Ned) Team Sky  
42Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
43Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step  
44Lawrence Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling  
45Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Astana Pro Team  
46Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
47Simon Clarke (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
48Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:01:01 
49Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
50Cyril Gautier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
51Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
52Sebastian Henao Gomez (Col) Team Sky  
53Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:36 
54Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
55Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:02:05 
56Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data0:02:07 
57Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge0:02:12 
58Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step0:03:20 
59Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:03:37 
60Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:04:18 
61Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data0:04:33 
62Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data  
63Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
64Mario Jorge Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida  
65Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Team Katusha  
66Huub Duyn (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
67Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
68Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre - Merida  
69Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Tinkoff Team  
70Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha  
71Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie  
72Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
73Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
74Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team  
75Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
76Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling  
77Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
78Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
79Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ  
80Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
81Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
82Sergei Chernetski (Rus) Team Katusha  
83David Tanner (Aus) IAM Cycling  
84Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
85Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha  
86Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
87Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
88Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
89Michel Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
90Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Team Katusha  
91Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
92Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
93Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge  
94Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ  
95Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:05:39 
96Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:05:56 
97Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha0:06:19 
98Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:07:35 
99Matej Mohoric (Slo) Lampre - Merida0:08:03 
100Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
101Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha0:08:49 
102Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
103Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
104Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
105Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
106Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
107Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
108Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
109Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
110Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie  
111Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team  
112Jesper Hansen (Den) Tinkoff Team  
113Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
114Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
115Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
116Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
117Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:09:11 
118Chad Haga (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin0:11:24 
119Marinus Cornelis Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:15:49 
120Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:17:16 
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky  
DNFBen Swift (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky  
DNFTony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFRuben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) Movistar Team  
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFAdam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFFredrik Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFMike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFMaarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFJay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff Team  
DNFEvgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
DNFYury Trofimov (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFLaurent Didier (Lux) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFFabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFRyder Hesjedal (Can) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFFrank Schleck (Lux) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
DNFFabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJoaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha  
DNFMikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFChristophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAlexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFOdd Christian Eiking (Nor) FDJ  
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ  
DNFJérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ  
DNFKévin Reza (Fra) FDJ  
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ  
DNFJerome Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling  
DNFStef Clement (Ned) IAM Cycling  
DNFSondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling  
DNFStefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling  
DNFNathan Brown (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFOmar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Dimension Data  
DNFNathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data  
DNFNatnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data  
DNFYoucef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data  
DNFSander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFEliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFDries Van Gestel (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJens Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJohnny Hoogerland (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFSjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFMark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFKenny De Haes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFThomas Voeckler (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFThomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFFabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFTony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFRyan Anderson (Can) Direct Energie  
DNFJosef Cerny (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFAdrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFJaroslaw Marycz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFLeszek Plucinski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFDamiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFGrega Bole (Slo) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFGiacomo Berlato (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFYuma Koishi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFKazushige Kuboki (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFRiccardo Stacchiotti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFNicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFSimone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFNicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFLuca Sterbini (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFAlessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF  


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