Valgren wins Amstel Gold Race

Astana rider tops Kreuziger, Gasparotto

Michael Valgren (Astana) took victory at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, beating Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) in a two-up sprint, with Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) crossing the line just behind for third after failing to catch the duo. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the sprint for fourth place. 

It's the second major one-day victory for the Dane after his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad triumph in February, and it came about in similar circumstances as Astana once again exploited a numerical advantage in the lead group in the race's finale.

When Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked on the Guelhemmerberg, the penultimate climb of the day, a group of eight riders – plus a few breakaway remnants – went clear, and Astana were the only team with two riders, Jakob Fuglsang joining his compatriot.

Fuglsang attacked repeatedly in a bid to put pressure on Valverde and the other big-name favourites in the group, which also contained Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), along with Kreuziger and Gasparotto, who'd previously attacked ahead of the Cauberg.

With five kilometres remaining, and the final climb of the Bemeleberg out of the way, Valgren launched his first attack, but it was swiftly closed down by Wellens and Sagan. There was no such response on the second time that Valgren went with 2.5km to go.

Sagan was on the front of the group but while Kreuziger went off in pursuit, the world champion stayed put in a game of brinksmanship with Valverde and Alaphilippe. Gasparotto then set off in pursuit, but nothing came from the five-star favourites, and in the blink of an eye they effectively marked each other out of the race.

Wellens finally caved in but it was too late, and Valgren and Kreuziger headed under the flame rouge with a large enough advantage to play out the sprint among themselves, while Gasparotto dangled behind but never managed to regain contact. Kreuziger led it out but Valgren soon responded and won convincingly.

After getting off the phone with Astana boss Alexander Vinokourov, Valgren was in high spirits in his post-race interview.

"He said that he saw a great team today, and I can only agree with him. We were super focused today, we had some really strong riders, Laurens de Vreese was working super hard at the beginning, Omar [Fraile] was working hard for me, then Jakob was setting up the finale for me, so in the end, it was perfect for us today," said Valgren.

"Me and Jakob worked well together. He was super strong and made the other guys tired. My second attack was the good one and I finished it off. He was yelling in the radio 'come on you can finish this!'. I did so, and I'm so happy for myself and for the team."

Sagan led the rest of the group home for fourth, followed by Valverde, Wellens, and Alaphilippe, with Fuglsang a few seconds back. Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), who had been part of the original breakaway that survived deep into the race, hung on for ninth place, while Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) attacked from the chase group in the finale to clinch a top 10.

Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida), and Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) all finished in the main chase group of 10 at 53 seconds. 2015 champion and last year's runner-up Michal Kwiatkowski slipped back to eventually finish at 2:11 in a group with Dylan Teuns (BMC), Rui Costa (UAE), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and Michael Matthews (Sunweb), who'd punctured ahead of the Cauberg.

How it unfolded

The riders gathered in Maastricht under clear blue skies for the 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race, the first part in the Ardennes Classics triptych, even if the race takes place in the hills of Limburg, Holland, rather than the Belgian Ardennes.

After a minute’s silence in memory of Michael Goolaerts, who tragically died after Paris-Roubaix last week, the riders rolled out, with 263 kilometres ahead of them. The course would twist its way through the Limburg countryside, with no fewer than 35 climbs on the menu. The organisers replicated last year’s format – where the Cauberg preceded the Guelhemmerberg and Bemelerberg instead of acting as the final climb – and even chose some narrower roads in the finale in hope of repeating the spectacle of 12 months ago.

A breakaway of 12 riders went clear early on, containing: Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). They were allowed to open up a huge lead of 16 minutes, and as a result were able to go deep into the race, with Craddock even landing a top 10 finish.

The early afternoon passed without major incident as the peloton, suddenly awake, set about steadily reducing the deficit, with Movistar and Bora-Hansgrohe the chief contributors. The climbs came and went but the real action would be preserved for later in the day.

Well aware of the role the Kruisberg played 12 months ago in igniting the race, the favourites and their teams begun to assert themselves as they entered the final 50km of racing. Bahrain-Merida turned up the gas ahead of the Gulpenerberg, and then teams sent second-tier names – such as Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) to raise the pace and thin out the peloton.

That they did, and while there were no attacks on the Kruisberg this time, Gorka Izaguirre attacked over the top of the Eyserbosweg shortly after, and the peloton began to split under the pressure. The other Izaguirre brother, Jon, was the next to go and went solo for a couple of kilometres, before being caught on the Keutenberg, where the favourites were now fully to the fore.

Kreuziger was the next to attack and, as would happen later, Sagan let it go. Gasparotto joined Kreuziger and by the middle of the Cauberg they had caught the six leaders – Tizza, Tamkink, and Smit having lost contact. Meanwhile Pieter Serry led the main peloton – now containing around 30 riders – to lay the foundations for an Alaphilippe attack. The Frenchman’s move was short-lived, as was one from Fuglsang, but Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) did succeed in going clear with FDJ’s Rudy Molard, and they crossed the finish line for the penultimate time a few seconds clear, but 16 seconds behind the lead group.

Sergio Henao (Team Sky) helped bring that duo to heel in time for the Guelhemmerberg, but Team Sky would ultimately miss out as the group split and Valverde made his acceleration. Wellens, Alaphilippe, Valgren, and Sagan were all swift in their response, but Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet and other pre-race favourites missed out.

Fuglsang initially didn’t make the cut but eventually managed to drag himself across. How important that would turn out to be.

The lead group were soon caught, while those who’d missed the boat drifted to 20 seconds, despite Daryl Impey’s attempt at a counter-attack. Onto the Bemeleberg and remarkably it was Riesebeek, who’d been out in the break all day, who was the chief aggressor. Fuglsang responded both times, forcing Valverde onto the defensive on the second occasion.

As Fulgsang then set about leading the group, Valgren could be seen lurking right at the back of it, and soon came the inevitable attack. While his first attempt was swiftly stamped out, his second succeeded in turning the bigger names against each other.

So, while Valverde, Sagan, and Alaphilippe had seemed like the strongest riders in the race, they were outmuscled tactically by what turned out to be the strongest team.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team6:40:07 
2Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott  
3Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:00:02 
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:19 
5Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team  
6Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
7Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors  
8Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:00:23 
9Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:30 
10Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:36 
11Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:53 
12Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
13Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
14Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
15Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
16Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo  
17Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
18Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky  
19Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
20Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
21Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij0:00:56 
22Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:01:19 
23Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Trek-Segafredo0:01:51 
24Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb0:02:11 
25Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
26Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data  
27Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates  
28Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo  
29Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
30Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
31Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky  
32Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
33Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors  
34Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
35Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
36Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team  
37Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:03:15 
38Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:03:26 
39Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy  
40Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo  
41Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
42Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
43Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
44Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team  
45Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo  
46Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
47Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
48Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
49Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
50Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
51Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
52Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy  
53Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
54Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale  
55Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo  
56Simone Ponzi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
57Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
58Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport  
59Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
60Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
61Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data  
62Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
63Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
64Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin  
65Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
66Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
67José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team  
68Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
69Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
70Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
71Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
72Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott  
73Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
74August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy  
75Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data  
76Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
77Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
78Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing Team  
79Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates  
80Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
81Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport  
82Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal  
83Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
84Carlos Verona (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott  
85Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
86Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo  
87Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb  
88Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team  
89Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team  
90Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
91Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
92Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
93Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb  
94Bram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:03:35 
95Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:04:50 
96Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data  
DNFNiki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFEnric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFDavide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors  
DNFMichael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFWout Poels (Ned) Team Sky  
DNFTao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky  
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky  
DNFAndrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team  
DNFImanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb  
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFMike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFDanny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFJay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFCesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFKoen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFJasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFMichael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFNathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFSteff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFBaptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFWillie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ  
DNFRomain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJ  
DNFDaniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
DNFLogan Owen (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale  
DNFAmanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data  
DNFJohann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFJaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFFranco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFElmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFJeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFNick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFRoy Goldstein (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFKrists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFBenjamin Perry (Can) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFTyler Williams (USA) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFMark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFAaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFCalvin Watson (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport  
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFAaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFKevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFJordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFSimon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFMark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe Gobert  
DNFBryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFYoann Bagot (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFTanguy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFJustin Mottier (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFPatrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept Club  
DNFKevin Reza (Fra) Vital Concept Club  
DNFDamiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFMarco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFEduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFMarino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  
DNFJuan Jose Lobato (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini  

Related Articles

Back to top