Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) took her first win at the Amstel Gold Race with a powerful turn of speed, filling a rare gap in her palmares, but a celebration before the line turned what had looked like an unassailable gap in the final sprint into a close call.
It has been a week filled with reminders not to celebrate until over the finish line, with Demi Vollering (SD Worx) missing out on victory at Brabantse Pijl by the slimmest of margins when it came down to a photo finish after she had raised her arm to celebrate early. The 24-year-old Dutch rider from SD Worx clearly learnt a lesson from the mid-week photo finish, coming from well back on Sunday and keeping the acceleration going until she was over the line to take her within a wheel of victory at the Amstel Gold Race.
It was near enough to provoke a worried looking sideward glance from the Jumbo-Visma rider on the line.
“Demi came really close, so it was a little bit of an advantage, but it was quite close,” said Vos during the televised interview immediately after the race.
The 33-year-old rider, who took victory from a celebrating Lucy Kennedy at the Giro Rosa in 2019, had enough momentum to carry her through to that much sought after first victory at the Amstel Gold Race, which returned to the women's calendar in 2017 after a 13 year absence.
"Since this ‘home race’ is on the calendar, winning the Amstel Gold Race has always been a big goal for me," Vos said in a team statement. "I’ve already experienced great editions, but this is really cool. It feels different without spectators, but you notice that people care about this race. I hope we have made the people at home happy. In any case, I enjoyed it, even though it was very hard.”
The race, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year took place on a circuit starting in Valkenburg. The 116.3 kilometres was clocked up over seven laps, all including the three main climbs over the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and Cauberg. Behind Vos and Vollering, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) took the final step of the podium.
"It was really a very open race, which I had expected beforehand," Vos said. "It was a continuous race from the start with a lot of different groups that were able to get away. In the final sprint I fortunately had some energy left to finish it off."
After her second win of the season, taking victory at Gent-Wevelgem in March, The 12-time world champion has also now stepped into the lead of the Women’s WorldTour.
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