The Amstel Gold Race is one of the few races that Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar Team) never won, and the 2022 edition was no different. Despite attacking early on the final ascent of the Cauberg, she could not shake off all her competitors and eventually finished fourth in a close sprint, three seconds behind solo winner Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope).
“I had hoped for a more exciting race, so it was a bit disappointing in that way. If you arrive at the bottom of the Cauberg with such a big group, it is not raced hard enough for me. I have to accept that this course is more for explosive climbers, and I did everything I had in my legs today. This one is hard for me to win; I only stand a real chance if we arrive at the Cauberg with a smaller group. For me to win here, I need a group of 10-15 riders at the bottom of the last Cauberg,” Annemiek van Vleuten said.
Although the Cauberg is the final – and decisive – climb in the women’s race, the hardest climb, the Keutenberg, comes 68 kilometres from the finish, followed by three laps of a finishing circuit, as opposed to 34 kilometres from the line in the men’s race.
Only Demi Vollering (Team SD Worx) and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) could follow Van Vleuten’s attack on the Keutenberg, with four other riders bridging on the plateau after the climb, but so far from the finish the group did not work together and was caught again with 40km to go.
“My first attacks were planned – from 75km to go, there is a really good combination of three climbs (Eyserbosweg, Fromberg, Keutenberg) shortly after each other. I felt it was a good possibility to make a reduced group – which it was, we were only three, but then you are also dependent on the others wanting to ride with you," she said.
"They weren’t really committed, so it all came back together. At least I took the opportunity to really hurt my opponents early already."
With her own chances of winning the Dutch classic in the future being slim, the 39-year-old enjoyed the performances of her Movistar teammates Emma Norsgaard who she lauded as a possible future winner of the Amstel Gold Race and Arlenis Sierra who was part of a breakaway that was only caught 10 kilometres from the line.
“I told Emma that this is a race she can win in the future. It was a really good experience for her today, and she was still there at the bottom of the Cauberg where she did the lead-out for me. She is so young and super talented, I think she doesn’t know yet what she is capable of, and I like to inspire her. It was also nice to have Arlenis Sierra in front. In that way we had a good situation with the team, I enjoyed that,” finished Van Vleuten.
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