Complete Live Report
Live coverage of the 54th Amstel Gold Race, a 265.7km outing in the Limburg hills in the south of Holland.
Good morning and welcome to the Ardennes Classics!
It's the morning of Amstel Gold Race, the first in a famous trio of hilly one-day races in southern Holland and Belgium, with La Flèche Wallonne coming on Wednesday and Liège-Bastogne-Liège next Sunday. Amstel is something of a mad outing in the hills in the Limburg region of Holland, twisting and turning its way through the labyrinth of country roads and over no fewer than 35 punchy climbs.
Riders and teams are in a sunny Maastricht, signing on and going through the last of their pre-race rituals.
They'll be underway at 10.30 local time.
Here's the scene in the square
Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe, Alejandro Valverde, Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews...
Plenty of big-name potential winners have lined up today. Full start list at this link.
Before we get underway, now's the time to have a read of this.
A little word on the route...
The Cauberg was once the focal point of this race, but some would say not a good one. The race had become something of a waiting game ahead of the charge up the final climb and two years ago the organisers decided to change things up. They kept the Cauberg in the race - they'll do it three times today - but they've removed it as the final climb, with the finale now featuring an extra little loop over the Geulhemmerberg and Bemeleberg, which tops out with 7.3km to go.
So far, so good, as the past two editions have been more open and seen the racing kicking off from further out, with much more tactical finales.
We're rolling, by the way. The riders have left Maastricht's square and are now riding through a short neutralised section before the race proper begins.
A little delay in the neutralised zone, but the flag drops and the race is underway.
The first attacks come and go as the battle for the break heats up.
- 255.7km remaining from 265.7km
The riders head over the Slingerberg, the first climb of the day. Just 34 left to do. Peloton is still all together.
They'll hit the Cauberg for the first time after 55 kilometres, and it'll be the sixth climb of the day. Just after that is the finish line, which they'll cross for the first of four times.
Next comes a long 120km loop containing 18 climbs, finishing with the Cauberg and then the second crossing of the finish line with 85km to go.
The next loop is where the race should really hot up, with 65km and nine key climbs - Guelhemmerberg, Bemeleberg, Looberg, Guiperberg, Kruisberg, Eyserbosweg, Fromberg, Keutenberg, Cauberg.
They then cross the finish line for a penultimate time for the endgame - a short 16km loop over the Guelhemmerberg and Bemeleberg, both followed by narrow descents on country lanes before the run-in to the line.
- 242.7km remaining from 265.7km
Still no breakaway as we hit the Lange Raarberg, the third climb of the day.
Three riders break free and open up a small lead, and the counter-attacks come, with five riders jumping across and more trying to do the same.
It's Michael Schär (CCC Team), Nick van der Lijke, (Roompot-Charles), Paolo Simion (Bardiani-CSF), Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo), Thomas Sprengers (Sport Vlaanderen Baloise), Aaron Verwilst (Sport Vlaanderen Baloise), Grega Bole (Bahrain-Merida), Jimmy Janssens (Corendon-Circus).
- 240km remaining from 265.7km
It appears this move is going clear.
Israel Cycling Academy have missed out and they've launched Tom Van Asbroeck to try and get across.
The peloton have well and truly sat up and are already three minutes back. This is our breakaway. The only question is if Van Asbroeck and another duo of chasers - who have surely left it too late - can get across.
- 232km remaining from 265.7km
Van Asbroeck makes it over, so that's nine in the break.
When was the last time the pre-race favourite was a debutant?
It's extraordinary, but that's exactly the word for Mathieu van der Poel. The 24-year-old cyclo-cross world champion has had a sensational debut spring classics campaign, with victory in Dwars door Vlaanderen and fourth in the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem. Off the cobbles and into the hills, he won Wednesday's Brabantse Pijl - a key indicator for Amstel - in some style, attacking from range before making the final selection with Alaphilippe, Wellens, and Matthews, and beating them commandingly in the sprint. He therefore leads the market at pretty much every bookmaker.
Alaphilippe, by the way, has spoken about the Dutchman and was full of praise.
While we're on the subject, Tim Wellens has also spoken about Van der Poel. Everyone's talking about him, to be honest. Anyway, Wellens recounts an amusing anecdote a few days ago when his grandma asked if Van der Poel was racing, before saying: 'oh well, it's for second place then'.
Wellens says it's amazing that a cyclo-cross rider can spend his winter doing one-hour races in fields and then come to the road and be better than almost all full-time road racers. He also talks about his and his team's chances today. Full story at this link.
The nine breakaway riders have opened up a lead of 7:30 over the peloton.
Wanty sadly missed out and have two riders in between in no-man's land.
The women's race is also underway. They're 33km in, with 93km to go, and there's a seven-rider breakaway with a lead of five minutes. We'll keep you posted on all the key developments in that one, too. Here's Kirsten Frattini's race preview.
- 215.7km remaining from 265.7km
The Wanty duo are drawing nearer to the break. This would be a great effort if they make it, though they probably should have been up there to begin with. Jérôme Baugnies and Marco Minaard are the two riders in question for the Belgian team.
The leaders are over the Cauberg and heading to the finish line for the first time.
- 205.7km remaining from 265.7km
The breakaway riders cross the finish line with a lead of 7:35. The Wanty duo are almost there.
Minnaard and Baugnies have made it. There are now 11 in the break.
Philippe Gilbert has won this race four times. If he wins he'll draw level with record-holder Jan Raas on five, but will the transformation that has seen the former world champion go from hilly Classics specialist to cobbled Classics specialist (with wins at Flanders in 2017 and Roubaix last weekend) hold him back? The Belgian has spoken about how he has developed a 'diesel engine' - perfect for Roubaix but not necessarily the explosive punchy climbs here. Have a read of his pre-race thoughts, anyway.
- 179.7km remaining from 265.7km
After two hours of racing, the average speed is 43km/h.
The gap remains pretty stable around the 7:30 mark as the riders make their way to the 10th climb of the day, the Wolfsberg. There's still a very long way to the finish and the climbs in this part of the course are all about taking energy out of the legs and using up teammates before the favourites come to the fore later on.
2018 Amstel champion Michael Valgren may have left, but Astana still have one of the strongest all-round squads here. Lutsenko was flying at the start of the season and skipped the cobbled Classics to be good for the Ardennes. Fuglsang showed his form in the Basque Country, while Omar Fraile and Gorka Izaguirre are also good on this sort of terrain.
Astana Pro Team
41 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz)
42 Omar Fraile Matarranza (Spa)
43 Jakob Fuglsang (Den)
44 Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa)
45 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa)
46 Laurens De Vreese (Bel)
47 Luis León Sánchez (Spa)
Dimension Data, meanwhile, not only signed Valgren but the entire 2018 Amstel podium, with Kreuziger and Gasparotto both riding today.
1 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den)
2 Bernhard Eisel (Aut)
3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita)
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)
5 Roman Kreuziger (Cze)
6 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned)
7 Julien Vermote (Bel)
Over in the women's race, the break has been caught by an elite chase group. 18 riders out front with 50km to go - Langvad, Van der Breggen, Penuela, Ludwig, Niewiadoma, Vos, Moolman-Pasio, Van Vleuten, Spratt, Vollering, Buijsman, Brand, Malseed, Bastianelli, Longo Borghini, Deignan Van Dijk, Sanguineti.
The world champion on the start line a little earlier. Valverde has won Flèche five times and Liège four times, but never Amstel... Is this the year he completes the Ardennes set?
- 161.7km remaining from 265.7km
It's been a really quiet start to the race, as we go past the 100-kilometre mark. The break took a little time to establish itself but since then it's been pretty uneventful, with no crashes or anything like that to report. The gap between the 11-man breakaway and the peloton has nudged up slightly to eight minutes.
In the women's race Lizzie Deignan has attacked solo and leads the way with 40km to go. This is her first race since the end of 2017 and is her comeback after giving birth seven months ago. It's also her first appearance for her new team Trek-Segafredo. What a story this would be.
Deignan is caught on the Cauberg and it's all kicking off again as they cross the line.
"It's special to be here in this jersey," said Dutch champion Van der Poel at the start. "For me it would be good if the race opens up early and we go away in a smaller group before the final climbs."
What of Peter Sagan? The three-time champion has been well off the boil all spring. He was sick ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico but it's not clear if that's the full and sole explanation. He made it into the decisive selection at Paris-Roubaix but was visibly empty. He's riding Liège for the first time this year, so he has two Sundays and two chances to salvage something from his spring. Here's what Bora-Hansgrohe director Patxi Vila had to say about Sagan after Roubaix.
- 150km remaining from 265.7km
150 to go and the gap has come back down, to 7:20 now. It's been a slower third hour of racing.
In the women's race, we've had a key move. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) and Katie Hall (Boels Dolmans) have gone clear and lead a reduced chase group by 35 seconds. Vos and Moolman-Pasio from CCC have missed it and are chasing, while Deignan, Van der Breggen, and Van Vleuten - with teammates up the road - sit in. The impetus seems to be ebbing from CCC now. 25km to go.
The women's race hits the Cauberg again and Vos has done a huge turn to bring the gap down ahead of the climb. Her teammate Moolman-Pasio jumps and that leading trio are caught. It's all splitting up with Niewiadoma on the front foot now.
Moolman-Pasio slipped back and now it's just Niewiadoma clear over the top with Spratt, Longo Borghini and Spratt.
Here's Wout Van Aert at the start. He's had a great spring, but has been somewhat overshadowed by his old cyclo-cross rival Van der Poel. He's perhaps less of a puncheur than Van der Poel, so more of an outsider for today.
This time with the photo attached...
- 132km remaining from 265.7km
The peloton are starting to pick up the pace now, and the gap to our 11 leaders drops to 6:30.
A reminder of the composition of the break
Michael Schär (CCC Team)
Nick van der Lijke (Roompot-Charles)
Paolo Simion (Bardiani-CSF)
Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo)
Thomas Sprengers (Sport Vlaanderen Baloise)
Aaron Verwilst (Sport Vlaanderen Baloise)
Grega Bole (Bahrain-Merida)
Jimmy Janssens (Corendon-Circus)
Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel Cycling Academy)
Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Gobert)
Jerome Baugnies (Wanty-Gobert)
My colleague Ellis Bacon has picked some of the riders out for pre-race analysis. Have a read and let us know what you think.
In the women's race Elisa Longo Borghini has attacked again in a tactical period of the race. The Italian leads solo going into the final 10km with 20 seconds in hand.
Onto the final climb of the Bemeleberg and Van Vleuten attacks from the chase group.
Vos, Bastianelli, Niewiadoma follow Van Vleuten and now world champion Van der Breggen surges across.
The chase group swells over the top and riders start looking at each other. Longo Borghini's advantage starts to rise, but now Van der Breggen accelerates.
In the men's race the gap continues to drop - 6:10 now. It's pretty quiet still, so we'll take you through the finale of the women's race here.
Moolman-Pasio and Spratt have attacked from the chase group. And they're stalling behind.
Moolman-Pasio and Spratt are closing in on Longo Borghini with 6.5km to go. Van Vleuten is sitting in back in the group behind, with her teammate Spratt up the road. Boels Dolmans have missed this and need to mount a chase soon.
The Cauberg is still the final climb in the women's race, and that'll be the key moment here.
Longo Borghini is caught by Spratt and Moolman-Pasio. Meanwhile Van der Breggen is leading the chase group behind. The gap is 20 seconds.
Down towards the Cauberg now and the chase group of 12 comes back to the leading three. 15 riders in contention. 3km to go. Here we go.
Alison Jackson is the first to attack. Van der Breggen dropped.
Niewiadome attacks now, Vos tries to go with her.
Niewiadoma is going clear! She was the strongest on the last ascent of the Cauberg and she's ripping away from the rest here.
Van Vleuten makes her move now. She reaches Vos and passes her.
1.8km to go as they go over the top and towards the finish. It's still false flat. It's Niewiadoma versus Van Vleuten.
Van Vleuten is closing in on Niewiadoma in a dramatic pursuit with shades of La Course. 1km to go.
It's a nailbiter but Niewiadoma is holding on. Tailwind I think.
Van Vleuten is coming back but she's going to run out of road...
Niewiadoma wins it! Van Vleuten comes closer and closer and is almost on her but the Pole sits up and celebrates in the final 15 metres. What a finale.
- 106km remaining from 265.7km
Back in the men's race and we have 106km remaining. We have ticked off 20 of the 35 climbs and have three more before the second ascent of the Cauberg and second passage of the finish line.
The gap to the 11 breakaway riders continues to drop slowly but surely. 5:45 now.
- 100km remaining from 265.7km
Over the Vrakelberg and into the final 100km. The gap is 5:45 and we should see things start to liven up as we approach the Cauberg and finish line. Astana and Lotto Soudal are prominent on the front of the peloton.
Simion has been dropped from the break, leaving 10 out front with a lead of 5:20.
With the climb of Sibbergrubbe out of the way, the pace quickens again as the Cauberg looms. It's an iconic climb and it signals that things are now going to get serious. Once over the top, they'll ride through the finish line, for another loop packed with climbs, where the race should really spring to life.
Deceuninck-QuickStep and Sunweb come to the fore now as they take on the Cauberg.
- 85km remaining from 265.7km
The intensification brings the gap down to 4:30 as the peloton comes over the Cauberg and across the line.
Onto the third 'loop' on this parcours that is often likened to a plate of spaghetti. These are the climbs on the agenda before the final short loop of just two climbs.
Astana are forcing a high pace here as the peloton strings out over the Guelhemmerberg.
- 70km remaining from 265.7km
Onto the Bemeleberg and Astana lead the peloton with no fewer than five riders. The gap is down to 3:05.
QuickStep emerge at the front now as it bunches back up again. That's a sign the pace has dropped again slightly, after that sustained period of high tempo. The gap to the 10-man breakaway stands at 2:40.
Alaphilippe, Van der Poel, Valverde, Matthews, Gilbert, Sagan, Kwiatkowski, Wellens, Van Avermaet...
They're the big names but, as always, it's a long list of genuine contenders. Take a look at the full start list and let us know who you're backing.
- 60km remaining from 265.7km
Astana are really taking responsibility here, remaining firmly on the front of the bunch. 60km to go and the gap to the break is 2:11.
The race could kick off at any moment, as we saw two years ago when the decisive selection came on the Kruisberg some 40km out.
We told you before about Alaphilippe's comments on Van der Poel. Well, in the same piece he also talks about his chances here and for Flèche and Liège. He says he's not in the same condition he was 12 months ago, when he won Flèche. That's partly because he crashed out of Basque Country and lost four days racing there, but also because he planned an earlier peak for Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, which obviously worked out pretty nicely...
- 54km remaining from 265.7km
The breakaway riders hit the Loorberg. Their lead is down to 1:50 as Astana pick up the pace on the slight downhill.
Verwilst is dropped from the break on Loorberg.
Team Sky come to the front at the top of the Loorberg. Van Baarle takes a bottle from a soigneur and Kwiatkowski is also up there. The Pole was second two years ago.
Adri van der Poel, father of Mathieu and a former Tour of Flanders champion, is on the side of the road once again, handing out bidons and standing ready with spare wheels.
Back on the flat and Astana continue their charge. Sunweb have assembled on the left-hand side of the road now.
46km to go and we're heading for Guiperberg. Alaphilippe and Van der Poel have moved up towards the front of this bunch.
Bernard attacks from the breakaway, with the gap standing at just 1:11.
Van der Poel attacks!
Wow. This rider just cannot be tamed. We're 44km out but the Brabantse Pijl winner is off. Big attack on Guiperberg.
Gorka Izaguirre manages to get across to Van der Poel but the rest are struggling as the race breaks up in their wake.
Izaguirre is marking Van der Poel - he's been told not to work with him. A similar situation came to pass on Wednesday, when he opened up the race early on. Things came back together but he had enough in the tank to make the final selection and win the sprint.
Izaguirre comes through for one cursory turn and Van der Poel looks over his shoulder to check on the state of the bunch.
The peloton is as one, but it has been reduced by that surge in pace. They're 13 seconds behind Van der Poel and Izaguirre.
Amazing stuff once again from Van der Poel, who does not have a conservative bone in his body. You can question whether this will hurt his chances later on. He answered those questions on Wednesday, but this is a bigger race, a longer race, with a much deeper field. Either way, it's great to watch, and this style of racing is what will surely cement Van der Poel as one of the stars of world cycling in the coming years.
Lutsenko is caught up as a few riders go down around a left-hand corner.
Bike change for Lutsenko
Van der Poel and Izaguirre are caught ahead of the Kruisberg.
- 38km remaining from 265.7km
Devenyns accelerates with Alaphilippe on the wheel as they hit the Kruisberg. It's splitting...
The breakaway are caught on the Kruisberg.
Most of the breakaway, that is. Three are left but they won't be out there for long.
Alaphilippe and Devenyns have caught the three remaining breakaway riders and opened a gap over the rest of the field. Trentin is also there.
- 36km remaining from 265.7km
The Frenchman sets his teammate Devenyns to the front before accelerating away as they hit the Eyserbosweg. Incredible stuff.
Fuglsang was in that mini group with Alaphilippe, Devenyns, and Trentin, and the Dane has set off in pursuit of Alaphilippe.
Fuglsang links up with Alaphilippe on the Eyserbosweg.
Kwiatkowski and Bettiol attack from the main group of 25 behind.
They reach Trentin and continue as a trio on the descent.
Peter Sagan dropped
The three-time world champion's spring woes continue. He's out of the picture already. Will he even make it to Liège now?
It's Woods for EF - not Bettiol. He, Kwiatkowski, and Trentin are 10 seconds behind Alaphilippe and Fuglsang.
- 31.5km remaining from 265.7km
So, the situation is this:
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang lead
Kwiatkowski, Woods, Trentin chase at 13 seconds
25 riders chase at a further 10 seconds
They're on a narrow downhill road but they'll soon be hitting the Keutenberg, which is viciously steep.
Matthews sits second wheel in the chase. Van Avermaet, Matthews, Naesen, Gilbert, Van der Poel up towards the front of the main group.
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang hit the Keutenberg with a lead of 19 seconds over the chasing trio.
The reduced peloton is a further 20 seconds back now.
Matthews hits the front of that reduced peloton on the Keutenberg.
Woods is dropped by Kwiatkowski and Trentin on this double-digit climb.
Van Avermaet follows as Matthews accelerates. Van der Poel is up there. Small splits int hat group.
Schachmann attacks from the reduced peloton!
Schachmann was so good in the Basque Country, winning three stages. A real contender today.
Woods is back with the chase group. It looks like he's working for Bettiol now. Schachmann doesn't have a gap but he has reduced that group.
No sign of Alejandro Valverde in that group. He and Sagan are the notable absentees.
25 riders in that group. It swelled again before the climb but has been reduced once more.
- 25km remaining from 265.7km
25km to go and Alaphilippe and Fuglsang have 24 seconds over Kwiatkowski and Trentin. The group of 25 is at 46 seconds.
No indication of what has happened to Valverde.
The main bunch is slipping back. They're now a minute behind the two leaders.
Valverde is in another chase group with Wout Van Aert. They're a further minute back, so two minutes down on the leading duo. Van Aert attacks from that group but it looks like these riders are out of the running.
- 21km remaining from 265.7km
Kwiatkowski and Trentin are gaining ground now. 13 seconds is the gap to Alaphilippe and Fuglsang.
They're heading into Valkenburg and they'll drop down into town before taking on the Cauberg for the final time. Just under 2km later they'll cross the finish line before heading out again fore the final 16km loop with the Guelhemmerberg and Bemeleberg.
EF have taken control of the first main chase group. They're still at 55 seconds.
Alaphilippe gets into his aero tuck as they hurtle down towards the foot of the Cauberg.
Here we go. They take the left-hander onto the Cauberg. Kwiatkowski and Trentin are just seven seconds behind.
Fuglsang leads the way, seated, with Alaphilippe springing out of the saddle behind him.
Jay McCarthy leads the main chase group onto the Cauberg. EF are amassed behind.
Fuglsang and Alaphilippe are pulling away again on the climb.
Jelle Vanendert once again comes alive in the Ardennes and attacks from that chase group.
Kreuziger sets off in pursuit. Bardet jumps on board.
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang now have 19 seconds once more over Kwiatkowski and Trentin.
Henao looks to attack from the main group. Mollema now.
Fuglsang and Alaphilippe pass the finish line with 20 seconds in hand over Kwiatkowski and Trentin. That fragmenting chase group is at 48 seconds.
Schachmann is off the front of that group now, and he has a decent gap already.
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang hit the penultimate climb of the day, the Guelhemmerberg.
They look at each other, and a few seconds are shaved off their advantage. Behind them, Kwiatkowski drops Trentin as the climb starts to bite.
- 13km remaining from 265.7km
13km to go and Kwiatkowski is easing clear of Trentin. 12 seconds to the leading duo.
Schachmann is still alone chasing down Trentin now.
The main chase group are still not out of this, at 45 seconds.
Just the Bemeleberg to come now, with 7km to go.
Bardet attacks from the group behind.
- 11.5km remaining from 265.7km
The gaps are remaining pretty stable at the moment.
Back on the top tubes as they tackle these narrow downhill roads. The organisers made further changes last year to eschew the wider roads.
Gilbert attacks now from that main group.
- 10km remaining from 265.7km
10 to go and Alaphilippe and Fuglsang lead. It's Strade Bianche all over again.
They have 16 seconds as Trentin makes it back to Kwiatkowski.
The leading duo are still working well together. A bit of cat and mouse let Wout Van Aert back into the picture at Strade Bianche.
Oof! Schachmann almost comes down as he goes full gas into a left-hander. Somehow he stays on his bike, but he loses a couple of seconds.
Mollema and Clarke are still out front from that attack over the finish line. They're in pursuit of Schachmann. Bardet is behind them off the front of the main group.
And that main group is 55 seconds back now. Game over.
- 7.5km remaining from 265.7km
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang plough on together. Their collaboration is good and their lead stands at 23 seconds.
They're almost at the Bemeleberg. Fuglsang has to try and drop Alaphilippe there.
- 6.7km remaining from 265.7km
Here we go! Onto the Bemeleberg!
Fuglsang does attack!
But Alaphilippe is comfortable in the wheel....
Van der Poel, Madouas, and Lambrecht have attacked from the chase group now but it's too late.
Kwiatkowski and Trentin follow on the cliomb at 35 seconds now. They're slipping out of the picture too, and Mollema and Clarke are closing in on them now.,
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang are still pulling away. 47 seconds now with just over 5km to go. Barring total breakdown, they'll be contesting the victory here.
Fuglsang attacks on the flat!
The Dane has to try something, anything. He knows he'll likely be picked off in a sprint by Alaphilippe.
Alaphilippe springs out of the saddle and gets back on terms.
Alaphilippe comes to the front now and keeps it ticking with 4km to go.
Trentin and Kwiatkowski are 40 seconds behind now, and 23 seconds in front of the next chasers.
- 2.8km remaining from 265.7km
This is all about Alaphilippe and Fuglsang now. The Dane hits the front and looks over his shoulder.
Schachmann is closing in on Trentin and Kwiatkowski, actually. Mollema and Clarke a bit further back.
- 2.1km remaining from 265.7km
Fuglsang plants himself on Alaphilippe's wheel now.
The road winds uphill on an uncategorised rise, on narrow country lanes.
Alaphilippe gets out of the saddle and looks over his shoulder. The lead is dropping now as Fuglsang sits in.,
Scachmann reaches Trentin, just as Kwiatkowski sets off in pursuit.
Fuglsang has put Alaphilippe on the front. It's a risky game as the Frenchman won't go full gas, and the lead is dropping.... 19 seconds now
The Van der Poel grop is back up now with Mollema and Clarke!
- 1km remaining from 265.7km
The gap falls to 12 seconds under the flamme rouge!!
Kwiatkowski is coming back!
And so are the rest... What a finale
The trio come into the final 500m. Van der Poel leads the chase a few seconds back.
This is amazing
Alaphilippe opens it up
But here comes Van der Poel...
AND WINS IT!!!!
Mathieu Van der Poel wins the 2019 Amstel Gold Race
That's incredible. Absolutely extraordinary. It looked like it was between Alaphilippe and Fuglsang but they started playing games and not only did Kwiatkowski come back, but also that chase group with Van der Poel. The Dutch champion was part of a mini group that tracked down Mollema and Clarke, Schachmann, and finally Alaphilippe, Fuglsang and Kwiatkowski. Unbelievable effort to get back to the front of the race, and with just 300 metres to go.
And that sprint. The catch hadn't quite been made, and Van der Poel, on the front of the chase group, sweeps left onto the wheel of Fuglsang, before ripping out to the right in an amazing burst of speed.
He doesn't raise his arms, just shakes his head in disbelief. You and me both, mate.
Clarke took second in that sprint, with Fuglsang holding on for the final podium spot. Alaphilippe was fourth and must be kicking himself.
"I can't believe it," says Van der Poel.
"I didn't believe I could win. I didn't expect that at all. I felt really good and tried to anticipate a bit on the Guiperberg, but it didn't really work out. I went full gas and hoped the leaders would start to look at each other. It's unbelievable."
Replays show what we didn't see before, and that's Van der Poel doing pretty much all the work in the chase group. He sprang clear with Madouas, Lambrecht, and De Marchi with 7km to go ahead of the Bemeleberg, joining up with Bardet, and then tracking down Mollema and Clarke, and then Schachmann and Trentin. He towed that group into the final straight, somehow coming back to the leading trio with 300m to go, and then somehow having enough left to win the sprint.
Mathieu van der Poel's victory in Amstel Gold Race came 29 years after his father's, Adri.— CafeRoubaix (@CafeRoubaix) April 21, 2019
Here's our report page