Amstel Gold Race: Marianne Vos storms to sprint win
Demi Vollering and Annemiek van Vleuten round out podium in Valkenburg.
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Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) accelerated hard to win the reduced bunch kick at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.
The Dutchwoman sprinted from a select group of 10 riders, winning with a powerful move that beat Demi Vollering (SD Worx) and Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar).
The victory adds yet another trophy to Vos’s stacked palmarès, with Sunday’s result being the first Amstel Gold title of her illustrious career. Valkenburg is a happy hunting ground for Vos, who won her world title in 2012 on a circuit based in the same city.
“It’s good to be back here, and even better with a victory,” she said.
The result made for an all-Dutch celebration with Vos and her Netherlands-based team winning on home soil.
“Since this ‘home race’ is on the calendar, winning the Amstel Gold Race has always been a big goal for me,” Vos said. “I’ve already experienced great editions, but this is really cool. It feels different without spectators, but you notice that people care about this race. I hope we have made the people at home happy. In any case, I enjoyed it, even though it was very hard.”
The sprint had played out after a flurry of attacks on the Cauberg climb, which fell just 2500 meters from the finishline. Van Vleuten was the first to hit out on the tough climb before defending champ Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) came round to crest the short climb together at the front of the race.
With Longo Borghini not fancying her chances in a sprint, the Italian tried to maneuver her rival into doing the pulling. As the two escapees stuttered, the all-star chase group bridged with just 400 meters to go.
Longo Borghini opened the sprint, but Vos kicked hard from her wheel, and once the Dutchwoman hit the wind, there was no stopping her. The Jumbo-Visma leader took a clear gap and sat up to celebrate early. Vollering came up late and fast to take second place, Van Vleuten finished third.
The race had played out over seven laps of a hilly circuit around Valkenburg as race organizers had to pivot from the usual route. The circuit made for an open and attacking race, with moves going off the front from almost kilometer zero.
“The race was breathtaking, I was out of breath for the whole last lap,” Vos said. “When it was the final sprint you always have that little bit of energy left of course. I expected a hard race, but it was even harder than expected. There were attacks from the gun.”
Trek-Segafredo dominates opening of race
Trek-Segafredo had flooded the front of the main group as flurries of breaks and attacks went in the opening hours of the race. The U.S.-registered squad squeezed the pace in the favorites’ group with Tayler Wiles, Audrey Cordon Ragot and Ruth Winder all making short solo attacks as the team piled pressure on SD Worx and BikeExchange, who did much of the chasing.
Canyon-SRAM was also active in trying to light up the race, attacking with several riders including Tiffany Cromwell and Alena Amialiusik.
Grace Brown tries her luck
Lucinda Brand, Mavi Garcia and van Vleuten all made big moves in the penultimate lap before Grace Brown hit out with Pauliena Rooijakkers the only rider to respond. The duo pulled out a 30-second gap and worked together well.
Brown’s relentless pace eventually put an end to Rooijakkers’ chances, who lost the Aussie’s wheel on a fast descent.
Brown dangled around 20 seconds ahead of the bunch going into the final 17km circuit nursed a slim lead through the final lap. The Aussie looked as though she could possibly pull off a surprise only for the pace to rocket in the bunch behind just ahead of the Cauberg, and she was eventually reeled in just at the bottom of the decisive climb.
Results will be available once stage has completed.