Millimetres separate Van Aert and Pidcock in Amstel Gold sprint
Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert narrowly out-lunged Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) to claim victory at the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. The two were part of a three-person move with Maximillian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) that got away on the final lap of the race.
Michael Matthews won the sprint for fourth, almost catching Schachmann on the line.
“They say I won, but actually I don’t believe it. It was apparently quite close but a few minutes ago the jury came to tell me that I won,” Van Aert said at the finish. “Normally a long sprint is in my favour, I thought. I had maybe the worst position to start the sprint, I thought it was better to launch early and apparently it was just enough.”
Pidcock suggested later that he had mistimed his sprint.
“I should have started first because I was faster,” he said to NOS. “That is a great learning moment. I gave Wout a small gap for the sprint, but we were too close to the finish. I was too far behind him and should have stayed in his wheel.
“I did ride a good race. I think I was the strongest in the race and I am happy with that feeling. But it’s frustrating that the difference is so small.”
How it happened
A group of 10 made their way off the front of the race early on, and for the first half of the race, the peloton was content to let them ride ahead. As the race approached the final laps of the course attacks started to pick up frequency, and with those attacks, the gap to the leaders plummeted.
With under 50 km to go the gap had dropped to just over a minute from upwards of three minutes. Attacks continued into the final 43 km with a group of six slipping away to bridge to the group of 10 still out front. With under 36 km to go, the two groups came together, but with Jumbo-Visma on the front of the remaining peloton, the 16 out front were caught on the Cauberg with 35 km to go.
Only Loïc Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) was able to escape the peloton and remained off the front as the race crossed the finish line with two laps to go with a group of three chasing the lone leader.
Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) jumped from the peloton to the three chasers with 30 km to go, but the four were caught less than a kilometre later. Schelling was not about to throw in the towel and attacked the remains of the peloton again, riding away with Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën).
Schelling, Dewulf and Vliegen came together with 25.4 km to go and seconds later Schelling attacked the other two, setting off solo for the remaining 25 km.
Schelling was caught at the base of the Cauberg as Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo) attacked past the Bora-Hansgrohe rider. Behind Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) suffered from a mechanical at the worst possible moment, just as the race took off at the front.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Van Aert, Pidcock, and a few others crested the top of the climb together. As the race approached the start of the final lap an elite group formed at the front. The next attack came from Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), who won the Amstel Gold Race in 2015.
Chaos ensued as the select group caught Kwiatkowski and Pidcock injected some speed with 15 km to go. Behind Pidcock, Van Aert and Schachmann followed, the three opened a significant gap from a group of chasers. Under 10 km to go and the gap to the three out front was 21 seconds, with Deceuninck-Quick Step chasing.
As the race approached the final kilometres Israel Start-Up National brought the gap to the leaders down to only 12 seconds but didn’t have the numbers to keep the pace up. Into the final 1.6 km, Tim Wellens jumped off the chasing group to hover behind the chasers.
In the final 700 meters, the three leaders started to look at each other, with the chasing group close behind. With 200 meters to go, Van Aert opened up his sprint followed by Pidcock. The two crossed the line side-by-side, but it was Van Aert who narrowly edged out Pidcock to take the victory. Schachmann followed the two to take third with Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) winning the sprint for fourth.
Results, Top 10
1 VAN AERT Wout (Jumbo-Visma) 5:03:27
2 PIDCOCK Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) st
3 SCHACHMANN Maximillian (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:02
4 MATTHEWS Michael (Team BikeExchange) st
5 VALVERDE Alejandro (Movistar) st
6 ALAPHILIPPE Julian (Deceuninck-Quick Step) st
7 SBARAGLI Kristian (Alpecin-Fenix) st
8 MOHORIC Matej (Bahrain-Victorious) st
9 KWIATKOWSKI Michal (Ineos Grenadiers) st
10 VAN DER SANDE Tosh (Lotto Soudal) st
More to come…