Skip to main content
Live coverage

Amstel Gold Race elite men - Live coverage

Refresh

The peloton has assembled in Valkenburg for the start of an unusual but still somehow familiar edition of Amstel Gold Race, which returns to the calendar after a pandemic-enforced hiatus. Ongoing coronavirus restrictions mean that the crowds are absent today, while the race takes place on laps of a circuit rather than on the usual, snaking route across the hills of Limburg. Even so, some old friends are here: namely, the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg.

The women's race concluded a short while ago, with Marianne Vos emerging victorious. Read more here. The men's peloton rolls out at 12.05 local time and is slated to hit kilometre zero at 12.11. They will tackle 12 laps of 16.9km circuit that takes in the Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and Cauberg, and then they will take in one, slightly different lap over the Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg before the finish in Berg en Terblijt.

The peloton is soft-pedalling through the neutralised zone ahead of the start proper. There is a distinct feel of World Championships to this course - Valkenburg has hosted the event three times, after all - and it's hard to shake off the feeling that the action will be condensed into the final couple of laps, as Marc Hirschi suggested yesterday. "I think it will be a little bit like the Canada races [the GP Montréal and Québec], where things stay together until three laps to go, and then when everybody’s a little bit tired, the race will actually start,” Hirschi said. Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

Hirschi's former Sunweb/DSM teammate Tiesj Benoot appears to be roughly in agreement with that analysis. "It's a bit easier to control things when it's laps of a circuit and I think it's a shame that we don't race 260 kilometres," Benoot told Sporza before the start. "But 220 kilometres is also enough for a nice race."

-217km

The race is not entirely without spectators. Some local residents are out on the course, while Tom Dumoulin, who lives nearby, has also been spotted at the start. The Dutchman has placed his career on hiatus and has yet to indicate whether he will return to professional peloton or not. On Friday, Primoz Roglič said his Jumbo-Visma teammate was wise to take as much time out as he needed. "We had a little contact. He just wrote to me that he’s still not sure. And I just wrote him back that there’s no pressure,” Roglič said. “It’s his decision what he does. I think he can do whatever he thinks is the best and we will all accept it.”

There is an early crash to report in the peloton, though it does not appear that any riders have been forced out of the race as a consequence. Out in front, a small group is attempting to forge clear.

-210km

-207km

-205km

With one lap completed, this looks very much like the morning break, but the gap is still hovering around the half-minute mark for the time being. It remains to be seen whether the teams that missed the move are now minded to bring it back.

The pace relents in the peloton early in the second lap, and the break's lead expands accordingly. 1:30 the gap.

-196km

Dutch Maurits Lammertink of Intermarche WantyGobert Materiaux pictured in action during the men elite Amstel Gold Race one day cycling race 21836 km from Valkenburg to Berg en Terblijt The Netherlands Sunday 18 April 2021 BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND Photo by ERIC LALMANDBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Maurits Lammertink and Chad Haga in action in the early break at Amstel Gold Race. (Image credit: Getty)

-190km

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) had to settle for second place at Brabantse Pijl in midweek but he remains the favourite for victory today in what is the final race of his Classics campaign. On the cobbles, Van Aert was - Nathan Van Hooydonck's fine cameo at Gent-Wevelgem notwithstanding - often isolated at key moments, but he can count on a supporting cast of considerable depth this afternoon. "We also have Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard. That is pleasant and that is also a completely different approach to the previous classics," Van Aert told Sporza. "I hope we can play that out. It is now a bit easier for me to race defensively. We have multiple options and I want to take advantage of that."

-185km

Situation

Jumbo-Visma are setting the tempo at the head of the peloton. There is, understandably, no particular urgency to the chase at this early juncture.

At the Tour of Turkey, Mark Cavendish has claimed his fourth stage win of the week, while Jose Manuel Diaz (Delko) has sealed overall victory. More details to follow here.

-170km

The race situation remains stable, with the Jumbo-Visma-led peloton content to allow these escapees some early leeway. It's interesting to see two Trek-Segafredo riders in the move, preparing the ground for Bauke Mollema and Jasper Stuyven later on.

-160km

Julian Alaphilippe is kicking off the most important week of his Spring this afternoon at a race he could - and perhaps should - have won in 2019. "Flèche suits me the best, but I dream of winning Liège. Of the three Ardennes Classics, Amstel is probably the one that suits me least, but I'm taking all three races to heart to close this part of the season," Alaphilippe said on Friday. Like many, the world champion compared the circuit race version of Amstel to, well, the World Championships. "It's also on a circuit and it requires a lot of energy and concentration," he explained. Read more here.

Movistar have taken over from Jumbo-Visma at the head of the peloton. The gap to the break has dropped slightly and now stands at 4:35. 

The break is approaching the end of the fourth lap of the Amstel Gold Race circuit. The average speed thus far is a brisk 42.5kph. 

-152km

Tom Dumoulin was a welcome presence at Amstel Gold Race.

Tom Dumoulin was on hand at the start of Amstel Gold Race.  (Image credit: Getty)

-138km

The escapees are onto the Cauberg for the fifth time. The ten men in front are collaborating smoothly for the time being and nobody is pushing on the pace too much on the steepest section of the climb.

Tom Pidcock is sitting comfortably on Greg Van Avermaet's wheel deep in the peloton. The Briton was an impressive winner of Brabantse Pijl in midweek, and he lines out in a very strong Ineos team that includes 2015 winner Michal Kwiatkowski, Dylan van Baarle, Richard Carapaz and Eddie Dunbar. 

-131km (8 laps to go)

-125km

Alejandro Valverde has never enjoyed Amstel Gold Race quite as much as Fleche Wallonne or Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but he has finished on the podium three times - 2008, 2013 and 2015 - and he is signalling his ambition with the work of his Movistar squad here. 

Paris-Nice winner Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) is likely to be a factor today and, indeed, all week, though he insisted his team had several options at Amstel Gold Race. "I’m feeling good. Basque was a hard race but I had some time in between. We’re here with a strong squad with some cards to play and I think overall we have more or less guys here with the opportunity to do something today," Schachmann told Eurosport. He is accompanied in Limburg today by Wilco Keldermann, Ide Schelling and Patrick Konrad.

-109km

-106km

Paul Martens is among the riders present at the head of the peloton for Jumbo-Visma. The German is in his final season as a professional and this is his 15th appearance at Amstel Gold Race. Only two riders have competed here more often: Davide Rebellin lined out 18 times and Maarten den Bakker raced Amstel Gold Race 16 times. Martens has spent his entire career on Dutch teams, starting with Skil-Shimano and then moving on to Rabobank (later Blanco, Belkin, LottoNL-Jumbo and Jumbo-Visma) in 2008, and this race has always been the centrepiece of his spring.  "When I heard that Paris-Roubaix was cancelled, and that Wout van Aert could add the Amstel Gold Race to his programme, it was an extra motivation," Martens told Wielerflits in an interview this week.

-93km

There has been a definite increase in tension in the peloton in recent kilometres. For the first time, perhaps, we saw something of a scramble for position as the race swung onto the narrowest section of the course. 

Soren Kragh Andersen, incidentally, is back in the peloton. 

A number of contenders are content to station themselves near the rear of the peloton for the time being, among them Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe). 

-87km

Deceuninck-QuickStep, Movistar and Jumbo-Visma have been the teams contributing to the pace-making duties in the peloton in recent laps, but delegations from Ineos and Alpecin-Fenix are now beginning to move up behind them.

-84km

Jasper Stuyven's hopes of joining Merckx, Raas and Zabel ends on the eighth ascent of the Cauberg, where he is distanced from the peloton. Despite the sheer succession of climbing on today's route, the course hasn't forced much of a selection in the bunch, but that will inevitably change in the closing laps. 

Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) is again distanced by the peloton, and this time it looks definitive. 

-80.5km (5 laps to go)

Alaphilippe, buried in the body of the peloton for much of the day, moves up on the Geulhemmerberg, as does Marc Hirschi. Bora-Hansgrohe, meanwhile, have joined the chase effort at the head of the peloton for the first time. 

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos) are also prominent towards the head of affairs. There's still a long way to go, but the favourites are beginning to pay closer attention to their positioning as the race approaches a new phase.

The ten leaders are still together as they tackle the Bemelerberg once again. This climb, remember, will be the final ascent of the day, as the last lap misses out on the Cauberg. 

-74km

-72.5km

Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) clips across to Power, but this duo hasn't managed to open much of a lead over the peloton just yet. 

-68.5km

Ineos and Bora-Hansgrohe are both present in numbers at the head of the peloton where the speed is edging ever upwards. On the next lap, we could well see some more lasting counter-attacks.

Qhubeka-Assos try again when the bunch hits the Cauberg, with Sean Bennett accelerating. He doesn't get away but his effort has strung out the peloton and several riders are losing contact at the back.

Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) accelerates as the road flattens out and his effort means a group of 9 or so riders has forged clear. Dangerman Jonas Vingegaard (JUmbo-Visma) is present in this group...

Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Peter Serry (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jan Tratinki (Brahin Victorious), Jan Bakelants (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert), Krists Neilands (Israel Start-Up Nation) are among the riders in this nine-man group. Ineos have missed the move and are chasing...

-64km (4 laps to go)

The break's lead, meanwhile, has dropped to just 2:32, and there is no sign of the speed relenting in the bunch...

Dylan van Baarle tries to get away, and then Robert Stannard has a go. Neither man manages to forge clear, but these efforts are stringing out the peloton still further and also making significant inroads into the break's advantage.

-61.5km

Florian Senechal hits the front of the bunch with Julian Alaphilippe on his wheel. The world champion would like to restore a semblance of order to proceedings rather than see the race break into shards.

-60km

The peloton has split in two, with Bauke Mollema and Sergio Higuita among those caught on the wrong foot when it broke up. This bunch should reform but it's an additional effort they could do without.

Another counter-attack forms under the forcing of Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal), but the move might be doomed by the presence of one Wout van Aert, who bridged across in the presence of Richard Carapaz.

The Van Aert group is brought back, but while the move is diffused, the t3ension remains... All the while, clumps of time of tumbling from the break's lead, which now stands at 1:47.

-58km

Oomen takes over at the head of the peloton and sets a brisk tempo. It's proving very, very difficult for any group to get away on this course, but it's also proving exceedingly difficult for any team to control matters amid this flurry of attack and counter-attack. Something has to give eventually.

-56km