Skip to main content

Valgren wins Amstel Gold Race

Michael Valgren (Astana) took victory at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, beating Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) in a two-up sprint, with Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) crossing the line just behind for third after failing to catch the duo. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the sprint for fourth place. 

It's the second major one-day victory for the Dane after his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad triumph in February, and it came about in similar circumstances as Astana once again exploited a numerical advantage in the lead group in the race's finale.

When Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked on the Guelhemmerberg, the penultimate climb of the day, a group of eight riders – plus a few breakaway remnants – went clear, and Astana were the only team with two riders, Jakob Fuglsang joining his compatriot.

Fuglsang attacked repeatedly in a bid to put pressure on Valverde and the other big-name favourites in the group, which also contained Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), along with Kreuziger and Gasparotto, who'd previously attacked ahead of the Cauberg.

With five kilometres remaining, and the final climb of the Bemeleberg out of the way, Valgren launched his first attack, but it was swiftly closed down by Wellens and Sagan. There was no such response on the second time that Valgren went with 2.5km to go.

Sagan was on the front of the group but while Kreuziger went off in pursuit, the world champion stayed put in a game of brinksmanship with Valverde and Alaphilippe. Gasparotto then set off in pursuit, but nothing came from the five-star favourites, and in the blink of an eye they effectively marked each other out of the race.

Wellens finally caved in but it was too late, and Valgren and Kreuziger headed under the flame rouge with a large enough advantage to play out the sprint among themselves, while Gasparotto dangled behind but never managed to regain contact. Kreuziger led it out but Valgren soon responded and won convincingly.

After getting off the phone with Astana boss Alexander Vinokourov, Valgren was in high spirits in his post-race interview.

"He said that he saw a great team today, and I can only agree with him. We were super focused today, we had some really strong riders, Laurens de Vreese was working super hard at the beginning, Omar [Fraile] was working hard for me, then Jakob was setting up the finale for me, so in the end, it was perfect for us today," said Valgren.

"Me and Jakob worked well together. He was super strong and made the other guys tired. My second attack was the good one and I finished it off. He was yelling in the radio 'come on you can finish this!'. I did so, and I'm so happy for myself and for the team."

Sagan led the rest of the group home for fourth, followed by Valverde, Wellens, and Alaphilippe, with Fuglsang a few seconds back. Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), who had been part of the original breakaway that survived deep into the race, hung on for ninth place, while Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) attacked from the chase group in the finale to clinch a top 10.

Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida), and Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) all finished in the main chase group of 10 at 53 seconds. 2015 champion and last year's runner-up Michal Kwiatkowski slipped back to eventually finish at 2:11 in a group with Dylan Teuns (BMC), Rui Costa (UAE), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and Michael Matthews (Sunweb), who'd punctured ahead of the Cauberg.

How it unfolded

The riders gathered in Maastricht under clear blue skies for the 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race, the first part in the Ardennes Classics triptych, even if the race takes place in the hills of Limburg, Holland, rather than the Belgian Ardennes.

After a minute’s silence in memory of Michael Goolaerts, who tragically died after Paris-Roubaix last week, the riders rolled out, with 263 kilometres ahead of them. The course would twist its way through the Limburg countryside, with no fewer than 35 climbs on the menu. The organisers replicated last year’s format – where the Cauberg preceded the Guelhemmerberg and Bemelerberg instead of acting as the final climb – and even chose some narrower roads in the finale in hope of repeating the spectacle of 12 months ago.

A breakaway of 12 riders went clear early on, containing: Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). They were allowed to open up a huge lead of 16 minutes, and as a result were able to go deep into the race, with Craddock even landing a top 10 finish.

The early afternoon passed without major incident as the peloton, suddenly awake, set about steadily reducing the deficit, with Movistar and Bora-Hansgrohe the chief contributors. The climbs came and went but the real action would be preserved for later in the day.

Well aware of the role the Kruisberg played 12 months ago in igniting the race, the favourites and their teams begun to assert themselves as they entered the final 50km of racing. Bahrain-Merida turned up the gas ahead of the Gulpenerberg, and then teams sent second-tier names – such as Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) to raise the pace and thin out the peloton.

That they did, and while there were no attacks on the Kruisberg this time, Gorka Izaguirre attacked over the top of the Eyserbosweg shortly after, and the peloton began to split under the pressure. The other Izaguirre brother, Jon, was the next to go and went solo for a couple of kilometres, before being caught on the Keutenberg, where the favourites were now fully to the fore.

Kreuziger was the next to attack and, as would happen later, Sagan let it go. Gasparotto joined Kreuziger and by the middle of the Cauberg they had caught the six leaders – Tizza, Tamkink, and Smit having lost contact. Meanwhile Pieter Serry led the main peloton – now containing around 30 riders – to lay the foundations for an Alaphilippe attack. The Frenchman’s move was short-lived, as was one from Fuglsang, but Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) did succeed in going clear with FDJ’s Rudy Molard, and they crossed the finish line for the penultimate time a few seconds clear, but 16 seconds behind the lead group.

Sergio Henao (Team Sky) helped bring that duo to heel in time for the Guelhemmerberg, but Team Sky would ultimately miss out as the group split and Valverde made his acceleration. Wellens, Alaphilippe, Valgren, and Sagan were all swift in their response, but Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet and other pre-race favourites missed out.

Fuglsang initially didn’t make the cut but eventually managed to drag himself across. How important that would turn out to be.

The lead group were soon caught, while those who’d missed the boat drifted to 20 seconds, despite Daryl Impey’s attempt at a counter-attack. Onto the Bemeleberg and remarkably it was Riesebeek, who’d been out in the break all day, who was the chief aggressor. Fuglsang responded both times, forcing Valverde onto the defensive on the second occasion.

As Fulgsang then set about leading the group, Valgren could be seen lurking right at the back of it, and soon came the inevitable attack. While his first attempt was swiftly stamped out, his second succeeded in turning the bigger names against each other.

So, while Valverde, Sagan, and Alaphilippe had seemed like the strongest riders in the race, they were outmuscled tactically by what turned out to be the strongest team.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team6:40:07
2Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
3Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:00:02
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:19
5Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
6Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
8Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:00:23
9Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:30
10Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:36
11Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:53
12Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
13Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
14Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
15Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
16Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
17Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
18Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
19Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
20Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
21Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij0:00:56
22Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:01:19
23Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Trek-Segafredo0:01:51
24Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb0:02:11
25Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
26Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
27Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
28Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
29Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
30Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club
31Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
32Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
33Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
34Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
35Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
36Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team
37Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:03:15
38Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert0:03:26
39Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
40Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
41Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
42Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
43Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
44Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team
45Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
46Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
47Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
48Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
49Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
50Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
51Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
52Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
53Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
54Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
55Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo
56Simone Ponzi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
57Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
58Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport
59Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
60Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
61Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data
62Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
63Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
64Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin
65Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
66Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
67José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
68Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
69Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
70Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
71Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
72Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
73Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
74August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
75Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data
76Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
77Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
78Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
79Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
80Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
81Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport
82Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
83Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
84Carlos Verona (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott
85Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
86Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo
87Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb
88Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team
89Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team
90Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
91Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
92Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
93Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb
94Bram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:03:35
95Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:04:50
96Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data
DNFNiki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
DNFEnric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
DNFDavide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
DNFMichael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFWout Poels (Ned) Team Sky
DNFTao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
DNFAndrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
DNFImanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFEdward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFMike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFDanny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFJay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFCesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFKoen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNFJasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNFMichael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
DNFDario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFNathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFSteff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFBaptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFWillie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
DNFRomain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNFDaniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFLogan Owen (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNFAmanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data
DNFJohann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFJaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFFranco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
DNFElmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFJeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFFloris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFNick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNFRoy Goldstein (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFKrists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFBenjamin Perry (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFTyler Williams (USA) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFMark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFAaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFCalvin Watson (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFAaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFKevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFJordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFSimon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNFMark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNFBryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFYoann Bagot (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFTanguy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFJustin Mottier (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFPatrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept Club
DNFKevin Reza (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNFDamiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNFMarco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNFEduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNFMarino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNFJuan Jose Lobato (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1