Enrico Gasparotto pointed to the skies in remembrance of his Wanty-Groupe Gobert teammate Antoine Demoitié as he crossed the finish line in an emotional end to this year’s Amstel Gold. The 34-year-old Italian outsprinted Tinkoff’s Michael Valgren after they broke away from the peloton on the final climb of the Cauberg. Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani-CSF completed the podium.
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This was an easy one. In a tough, rain-soaked race, it was (as usual) on the final climb of the Cauberg that the winning move was made. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) hit the Cauberg with 17sec on the peloton, only to be caught and passed by Gasparotto and Valgren. The Danish rider pulled hard to establish a race-winning gap for the pair which almost certainly drained him of any energy when it came time to contest the sprint for the line, leaving it to Gasparotto to take his second Amstel Gold title.
The best laid plans …
Pre-race logic had defending champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) and OGE’s Michael Matthews as the hot favourites for the title. Today, Sky seemed to take on an Etixx strategy of riding hard at the front for nearly the entire race, only to have Kwiatkowski drop off the back in the last 20km, and ultimately abandon as the race hit the penultimate climb of the Cauberg. Sky might very well have had depth in this race’s squad – Henao, Kennaugh, Poels, Swift – but they didn’t seem to have Plan B as their Polish rider started rolling backwards, leaving them with their top placed rider (Henao) at 28th.
Orica-GreenEdge certainly did their share of work on the front throughout the race, with Daryl Impey and Michael Albasini splintering the peloton in the final 40km to whittle down the competition for Matthews. OGE even had Roubaix champ Mathew Hayman putting the pain down to make sure the likes of Philippe Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen were shelled out the back (and stayed that way). So what possibly could have gone wrong? Considering that Matthews finished fifth, it was almost certainly the indecision and squabbling over who would take on the chase of Wellens and then Gasparotto and Valgren in the last 2km that scuppered Bling’s chances for the win. Do they not hear us when we shout ‘Don’t sit there and argue, RIDE!’ at them every week?
There were a couple gruesome looking crashes today. Fabio Felline of Trek-Segafredo had a freak crash in the neutral zone and went down hard on his face, breaking his nose and suffering a fracture at the base of his skull, which will be monitored closely over the next few days. It’s a miracle it wasn’t much more serious from the looks of it.
Same could be said for IAM’s Stef Clement, who went down hard in the middle of the race. Frighteningly, he didn’t move for what seemed like an eternity but the medical staff were with him almost immediately. He’s out with a double break of his collarbone.
1 Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) 6:18:02
2 Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) s/t
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani CSF) +0.03
4 Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) s/t
5 Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
6 Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) s/t
7 Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) s/t
8 Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) s/t
9 Loic Vliegen (BMC) s/t
10 Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) s/t
For full race review, go to VeloNews