Marc Hirschi and his UAE Team Emirates squad came into Amstel Gold Race among the favourites but the Swiss rider and his squad were left disappointed after he cruised home in 35th place. UAE Team Emirates' top finisher in the race was Matteo Trentin, with the Italian sprinting to 11th after Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) had sprinted to a narrow win over Ineos Grenadiers' Tom Pidcock after a pulsating day of drama.
UAE Team Emirates played a prominent role in several key moves with former World Champion Rui Costa and Ryan Gibbons both going on the attack inside the closing stages of the Dutch race. However, the team missed the vital moves in the finale and were forced to chase Van Aert, Pidcock, and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) after the trio created the winning move with 15km remaining.
Hirschi found himself working for Trentin from that point onwards but the duo were unable to crack the top 10 between them, with Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) winning the bunch sprint for fourth.
For Hirschi, Amstel Gold Race represented his first one-day outing of the season. Since his shock move from Team DSM to UAE Team Emirates over the winter, last year’s La Fleche Wallonne winner has struggled with health issues. He had to push back the start of this 2021 campaign due to a lingering hip issue, and then underwent surgery on his teeth before eventually beginning his season at the Volta a Catalunya in March.
He raced Pais Basque in the lead-up to the Ardennes but was used as a domestique as the team based their collective efforts around Tadej Pogačar.
“We came back and then we tried to do the sprint with Trentin,” Hirschi said at the conclusion of Amstel Gold Race.
When asked if the slow start to his season was still an issue, the 22-year-old admitted that he was still short of his best form, but that he was growing in confidence with each passing race.
“A little bit but I’m happy with my performance, I just missed a little bit. I hope that Fleche will go a bit better and that Liège goes even better than that. I’m looking forward to Fleche and I hope that the trend continues like this and that I can take something from every race.”
Trentin will not race La Fleche Wallonne this coming Wednesday, with Hirschi lining up to defend his title alongside Pogačar, Costa and Davide Formolo.
“I think for Wednesday it’s a pretty easy race,” Hirschi said when asked about how the Belgian race will unfold.
“It’s the same tactics on the same climb, mostly. Then on Sunday for Liège-Bastogne-Liège it’s clear from today that Tom [Pidcock], Julian Alaphilippe, and Wout [van Aert] are in really good shape. They’re probably the strongest riders.”
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