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Matthews has to settle for fifth at Amstel Gold Race

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Orica GreenEdge set the pace during Amstel Gold Race

Orica GreenEdge set the pace during Amstel Gold Race
(Image credit: Tim de Waele)
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Michael Matthews is edged out for fourth by Bryan Coquard

Michael Matthews is edged out for fourth by Bryan Coquard
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Michael Matthews and Bryan Coquard had to settle for sprinting for fourth.

Michael Matthews and Bryan Coquard had to settle for sprinting for fourth.
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Overall leader Simon Gerrans on the stage 5 podium

Overall leader Simon Gerrans on the stage 5 podium
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Etixx and GreenEdge controlling the pace for the sprint finish

Etixx and GreenEdge controlling the pace for the sprint finish
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

A maddening business, the Classics. A week after Mathew Hayman ad-libbed to pull off the surprise of the Spring by winning Paris-Roubaix, Orica-GreenEdge were now hoping that Amstel Gold Race would stick faithfully to the expected script, as they lined up with not one, but two favourites in the shape of Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans.

For six and a quarter hours in Limburg on Sunday, Orica-GreenEdge duly hit all of their lines, with Luke Durbridge, Michael Albasini and Hayman all prominent in exerting control on terrain that naturally lends itself to an unruly peloton.

When Matthews and Gerrans hit the base of the Cauberg for the final time safely ensconced in a reduced front group that had already shed contenders such as Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), the chances of an Orica-GreenEdge victory seemed ever greater, but their leading men would ultimately be upstaged by Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

With a stiff headwind waiting in the final 1.8 kilometres over the top of the Cauberg, it was perhaps understandable there was little immediate reaction when Gasparotto jumped clear two-thirds of the way up the climb, but his move suddenly gained momentum when Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) bridged across towards the top.