April 18, 2017
Phillipe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels - Dolmans Cycling Team) triumph at Amstel Gold 2017.
Phillipe Gilbert outwitted Michel Kwiatowski (Sky) in a two-up sprint to take his fourth Amstel Gold.
The pair had been part of a seven man break that was battling to stay ahead of survived a hard chase led by Greg Van Avermaet and Alejandro Valverde that threatened to neutralise their escape in the closing kilometres. Kwiatowski, aware of Gilbert's power went early and almost made it until the Belgian turned on the afterburners to overhaul him.
Third place went to Michael Albasini who outsprinted Nathan Haas to lead home the remans of the break ten seconds adrift. The main pack was led home Michael Gogl, 1'10" later.
Pre-race favourites included Gilbert, Van Avermaet, winner of Paris Roubaix a week earlier, and Alejandro Valverde who had come close but never won. The Spaniard was reported as disgruntled at the rather tame finish, preferring a more strenuous test, such as atop the Cauberg.
A twelve man break formed comprising CaubergBoom, Ariensen, Stalnov, Würtz, Vandenberg, Van Rooy, Canty, Van Zijl, Vanspeybrouck, Albanese, Paluta and Grellier. The 'twelve apostles', it was Easter after all, pulled out a lead of 8 minutes but never looked in a position to win.
The winning move actually came at 40km to go whne Sergio Henao made a bid for glory. He pulled Gilbert, Lindeman, Albasini, Rojas, Benoot, Ion Izagirri and Haas with him, followed by Kwiatowski, winner of the Strade Bianchi and Milano-San Remo. It was perhaps this effort that cost the latter his win.
"I was happy Michael (Kwiatkowski) joined me after the Bemelerberg”, Gilbert said later, "We managed to get a gap and worked really hard. It was a tough race, due to the wind. My thoughts on the new finale? It’s the riders that make the race. I was just happy that we all worked together.” Kwiatkowski tried to surprise Gilbert at the finish-line. ,,It seemed to work but Phil countered at the last 50 meters. He’s a great champion, let’s not forget that. He’s able to win everything this year.” Michael Albasini couldn’t make the final jump. Best of the rest, that’s what it is. I was hoping for a sprint but it wasn’t supposed to be. But I feel good and look forward to the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège."
In the Ladies race, Anna Van Der Breggan (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team) took a solo win, 55 seconds ahead of teammate Lizzie Deignan, with Katarzyna Niewiadoma (WM3 Pro Cycling Team).
With 121 kilometers and 17 climbs (including four times Cauberg) this first edition in fourteen years was unforgiving and for the first 100kilotres the pace was almost leisurely pace as the pack guarded their energy reserves. The race changed complexion immediately when Deignan, Longo Borghini and Niewiadoma attacked with 21km remaining. escaped. Sunweb's Ellen van Dijk tried to bridge the gap for Coryn Rivera and kept the three escapees within range.
Van der Breggen, Rivera and Van Vleuten finally made the join after the Bemelerberg, Van der Breggen almost immediately jumped and took 20 seconds.
the Olympic champion made the final ascent of the Cauberg look easy reaching the finish-line with nearly a miniutre in hand - cheered on by the crowd and with more than enough time to celebrate.
"Finally a big race for woman in the Netherlands. My focus was on this one and I’m very happy with the win. It’s nice that women and men race at the same time. This is a great podium to promote women-cycling." stated Anna van der Breggen
Deignan explained her attack, "I attacked on the Cauberg which was a set-up for Anna. But afterwards I kept thinking, where is she? When is she going to join us? This win is for all of us, the team was excellent."