Michael Valgren (Astana) claimed an emphatic victory in the Amstel Gold Race, out-sprinting former race winner Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott). Another past champion Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) completed the podium.
Valgren capitalized on the presence of world champion Peter Sagan in an elite eight-rider group, attacking with just over two kilometers to go in the newly engineered finale.
As Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) looked to Sagan to chase, and Valgren's teammate Fuglsang sat on, the Danish winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad forged out a significant gap on the rolling, narrow roads.
Kreuziger sensed the danger and rapidly bridged across, but Gasparotto hesitated a moment too long, and chased solo behind the pair, nearly making contact as Valgren opened up his sprint.
After his fourth place in the Tour of Flanders, Valgren has put his name into the hat as a Spring Classics favourite for the coming seasons.
2018 Brief Results
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team|
|2||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott|
|3||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida|
|4||Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|5||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team|
|6||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|7||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors|
|8||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team|
|9||Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale|
|10||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
The twists and turns of Amstel Gold Race in a labyrinthine fashion are a defining feature of race that opens the Ardennes classics. With a staggering 32 climbs, ranging between 500 metres and 4.3km in length, and all manner of Dutch road furniture to deal with, the race is far cry from the cobbled classics of the early Spring. Most of those climbs, which average up to 9% but are generally around 5-6%, are packed into the second half of the race, when the peloton is steadily whittled down.
Between 2003 and 2012, the finish was located at the top of the Cauberg, favouring puncheurs of the ilk of Philippe Gilbert. Since then Amstel has followed the example of Valkenburg's 2012 World Championships by moving the line 1.8km beyond the crest of this hill. This move hasn't fazed Gilbert, who won the 2012 world title and has since added the 2014 and 2017 titles to his palmares
The addition of world champion Peter Sagan to the 2018 start list is intriguing and will add a different element to the race. However, the likes of Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde, Michael Valgren, Michal Kwiatkowski, Nathan Haas and Michael Matthews will be out to stop the Slovakian.
For the Complete Guide to the 2018 Ardennes Classics - Click here.