On the last weekend in March, at Gent-Wevelgem, Jumbo-Visma completed an impressive double, winning the women’s race with Marianne Vos and the men’s with Wout van Aert. Fast forward to this past weekend, and it was exactly the same story at the Amstel Gold Race.
For Vos, winning Amstel Gold Race was a chance to fill an increasingly rare gap in her expansive trophy cabinet. For Van Aert, it was something of a relief after a bunch of just-abouts at one-day races in recent months. For Jumbo-Visma as a whole, it was the perfect day: two victories in the Dutch team’s home race.
Thankfully for those of us watching on from afar, Rhode Van Elsen was there shooting the women’s race, and Kristof Ramon was at the men’s race. Head on down the page to see their wonderful photos.
SD Worx has been an imposing force this year, winning six races with six different riders. (Pop quiz: who’s the rider without legwarmers?) Speaking of imposing forces, Trek-Segafredo started with two national champions (from left, Ruth Winder and Audrey Cordon-Ragot) and the Women’s WorldTour leader (Elisa Longo-Borghini). Euro champ Annemiek van Vleuten was one of the big favourites … as she is in most races she starts. Local team Parkhotel Valkenburg has one of the coolest kits in the sport. Speaking of great kits. And here’s Anna van der Breggen wearing the most coveted kit of them all. Anti-social distancing. Despite taking well over 200 wins in her career, Marianne Vos started the day without a victory at the Amstel Gold Race. Pop quiz: who is this photo of? Van der Breggen didn’t have her best day ever. She eventually finished nearly nine minutes down after missing the decisive split. With 25 km to go, Grace Brown (right, BikeExchange) and Pauliena Rooijakkers (Liv Racing) set off from the peloton. As Brown dropped Rooijakkers, Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) tried to come across … … but Brown would ultimately lead the race on her own before ultimately being caught on the final ascent of the Cauberg. Van Vleuten (centre) attacked on both the penultimate and final ascent of the Cauberg. At the top of the Cauberg, with 1.3 km to go, Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Longo Borghini had a significant gap over the rest of the bunch. After attacking at the top, Longo Borghini refused to work with Niewiadoma and the pair were soon caught. In the reduced-bunch sprint, Vos hit the front and posted up early … … and had a moment of panic when Demi Vollering (SD Worx) surged past. But Vos had done enough to win her first Amstel Gold Race. It’s Marianne Vos’ world. We’re just living in it. Another close second place for Demi Vollering. Her results this year: 13th, sixth, fifth, second and second. A big win can’t be far away. Third for Van Vleuten … … in an all-Dutch podium. Vos didn’t just take the win – she now leads the Women’s WorldTour individual classification. Still holding her flowers, Annemiek van Vleuten checked out the men’s race. The coolest man in the entire Benelux region. There was a sizeable early breakaway in the men’s race. The peloton follows the break up the Bemelerberg. Bob Jungels got caught up in a crash at the back of the peloton, copping a chainring to the forehead. The quiff escaped intact. Arjen Livyns went down hard in the feedzone… … and was unable to continue. World champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was among the pre-race favourites but would ultimately miss the winning move. A vintage performance from a vintage bicyclist. Forty-year-old Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished fifth. Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) put in a late solo dig but wasn’t able to make it stick. Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was plenty active in the closing laps. So too Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) who went on the move up the final ascent of the Geulhemmerberg. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) grimaces on the final ascent of the Geulhemmerberg. Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was forcing the pace on the final ascent of the Geulhemmerberg too. At 12.6 km to go, Tom Pidcock (Ineos-Grenadiers) attacked from the elite lead group and only Schachmann and Van Aert were able to follow. The trio worked well enough together to hold off the chase behind, before contesting the sprint. Van Aert led it out from the front and hung on to beat Pidcock by mere millimetres. The chase group rolled in just three seconds behind, with Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) taking fourth place. Wout van Aert (left), newborn son Georges (right, obscured by bassinet), wife Sarah (centre) and a flappy inflatable arm man going absolutely berserk (background). Van Aert’s next race is likely to be the Criterium du Dauphine in May and then the Tour de France. Pidcock was disappointed not to win, but at just 21, his future is looking incredibly bright. Cheers and beers for a couple of fast bicycle boys. It is not clear whether the podium finishers were treated to Amstel Lager or Amstel Radler – both of which are displayed on the backdrop. Each of them score in the bottom 5% of beers on RateBeer.com, with tasting notes for the Lager that it is a “a pretty gritty lager, objectively,” with the Radler described as “a pretty bad lemonade”.
Which is Wout drinking? Does he like it? Will we ever find out? Just a few of the questions that keep us awake at night.