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Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted to victory at the Amstel Gold Race after a fast and aggressive race. Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) finished second and third from a small group of favourites.
“I was out of breath for the whole last lap and there were several attacks, Grace Brown had a good opportunity and then, of course, the two in the front on the final climb the Cauberg but when it was a final sprint of course you have a little bit of energy left for the last few hundred meters,” Vos said at the finish. “I expected a hard race but it was even harder than expected.”
How it happened
From the very beginning, the race was an aggressive mess of attacks and re-shuffling. Riders tested their legs not only on every ascent of the Cauberg but on the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg as well.
Eventually, the course and the relentless changes of pace split the peloton into two groups. Van Vleuten, who was caught out, was forced to chase the leading group of around 20 riders. With half the race completed the front of the peloton remained together with the second group almost a minute and a half behind. The split was relatively inconsequential, with all the top teams represented in the front.
An attack by Van Vleuten on the fifth ascent of the Cauberg drew out a handful of strong riders including Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope), Vos, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SD Worx), and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo). For the first time in the race, Anna van der Breggen was caught on the back foot.
Despite containing a strong selection of riders Van Vleuten’s move did not last long and the front group came back together.
With 25 km to go the first really promising move went with Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange) and Pauliena Rooijakkers (Liv Racing). Brown recently pulled a coup at the Oxyclean Classic Brugge-De Panne when she attacked a group of strong sprinters to solo to victory. The Australian, a strong time trialist, and Rooijakkers quickly gained a 30-second advantage over the chasers.
On the Cauberg again with 19 km to go Van Vleuten tried again to attack and was followed by Longo Borghini and Vollering. The European champion’s attack was not enough to get away from the rest of her group but did pull back 10-seconds to the leading duo.
With two laps of the course remaining Brown and Rooijakkers held 20 seconds over the chasing group, and with 15.3 km to go Brown left Rooijakkers behind. Meanwhile, Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) escaped from the chasers and joined Rooijakkers behind Brown.
The pace increased in the chasing group and caught Magnaldi and Rooijakkers with 13.2 km to go. Brown remained 20 seconds ahead of her competitors. As the group caught the two riders their pace slowed, handing Brown crucial seconds.
Trek-Segafredo and SD Worx had the most numbers and were able to converge at the front to claw back some time on Brown. Brown crested the Bemelerberg with 20 seconds advantage but her gap dropped to only 7 seconds as the race approached the final ascent of the Cauberg.
At the base of the Cauberg with 2.5 km to go Van Vleuten put in a massive attack that brought back Brown. Unable to hold the attack Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) made her move, demolishing the rest of the group. Only Elisa Longo Borghnini could hold on to Niewiadoma’s wheel. The two barely got any daylight between them and the chasing group and were caught in the final kilometre of the race.
With the front group back together the race came down to a sprint where Vos claimed the victory over Vollering and Van Vleuten.
Results, Top 10
1 VOS Marianne (Team Jumbo-Visma) 3:00:20
2 VOLLERING Demi (SD Worx) st
3 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek (Movistar) st
4 SPRATT Amanda (Team BikeExchange) st
5 PALADIN Soraya (Liv Racing) st
6 GARCIA Mavi (Alé BTC Ljubljana) st
7 LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope) st
8 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa (Trek-Segafredo) st
9 MOOLMAN PASIO Ashleigh (SD Worx) st
10 NIEWIADOMA Kasia (Canyon-SRAM) st