Mathieu van der Poel’s victory salute said it all. Powering across the line with his hand on his helmet, the 24-year-old shook his head in disbelief. He couldn’t believe what he’d just done, and neither could the millions watching around the world.
He and his chase group were gone for all money. Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang had the race sewn up. But then: a careless game of cat-and-mouse, confusion over time gaps — whatever the cause, van der Poel and others managed to make contact barely 300m from the line. The Dutch phenom had done most of the chasing.
The 24-year-old launched his sprint from way out; from before he caught the leaders. He sprinted from the front, hit open road, then kept on going, becoming the first Dutch winner of the Amstel Gold Race in 18 years.
Those closing kilometres seem destined to go down in legend. The replay makes for spine-tingling viewing, even after several repeats.
In the gallery below you’ll see a collection of images that document van der Poel’s remarkable win.
Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) started the Amstel Gold Race as one of the big favourites … even though it was first attempt at the race.
Peter Sagan hasn’t had a great season thus far, but he’s never short of a fan or two.
Speaking of fans …
“We go to the front!”
The Gulpenerberg is a little more orderly than some of the climbs at the Tour of Flanders, say. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your perspective.
Van der Poel went on the attack with around 40km to go, before coming back to the bunch.
Fuglsang and Alaphilippe got away late and looked to have the race sewn up.
But several chasers were working hard from behind, including Matteo Trentin, Simon Clarke …
… and 2015 winner Michal Kwiatkowski.
Fuglsang and Alaphilippe spoke after the race about receiving poor time gap information in the closing kilometres. Fuglsang is on the radio here, seemingly asking his team director for more information.
Kwiatkowski and Trentin tried to bridge across late.
‘Kwiato’ made contact with the two leaders with about 700m to go … but behind him the Van der Poel-led group was just about to make contact as well.
Van der Poel surged past everyone to take a truly extraordinary victory.
Kwiatkowski made contact with the two leaders at around 800 meters to go … but behind him the van der Poel group was just about to make contact as well.
Agony? Ecstasy? Both?
That’s what they call a well-deserved beverage.
Van der Poel with Kasia Niewiadoma who, just a few hours earlier, won an extraordinary edition of the women’s race. The Pole attacked on the final climb of the Cauberg, and narrowly held on for a solo win ahead of a hard-chasing Annemiek van Vleuten. Be sure to click the link for the highlights — it was a stellar finish.
Clarke was second at the Amstel Gold Race, behind Dutch phenom Mathieu van der Poel who isn’t racing on Sunday.