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.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.