Mathieu van der Poel: ‘I didn’t have the legs to react to everybody’

Alpecin-Fenix star led home a chase group, but it was only good enough for fourth at the Amstel Gold Race.

Photo: ANP via Getty Images

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A week after Mathieu van der Poel delivered a dashing victory at Tour of Flanders, he missed a gear Sunday and came up short of the podium at the Amstel Gold Race.

The Alpecin-Fenix star led home a chase group, but it was only good enough for fourth, at 20 seconds back, after the race and the podium slipped away in the frenetic finale.

“I didn’t have the legs to react to everybody,” van der Poel said at the line. “I just gambled a bit, and it didn’t work out today.”

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Van der Poel missed out after eventual winner Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) jumped. Teammate Tom Pidcock was marking the chase group, and despite a few digs, it was impossible for van der Poel to close the gap to contest for the victory.

“Amstel is always a hard race. Even when they control the race, there are all the steep climbs and that hurts already. On the decisive climb, I was OK, and I took my own pace, and I was in the front group at the top. I knew it would be dangerous with the two Ineos guys, then it was a bit technical,” he said.

Van der Poel won Amstel Gold Race in a daring fashion in 2019, and returned to the Dutch classic this year running high on the momentum coming off his double at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Flanders.

The tactics didn’t tilt his way Sunday, however, but van der Poel remains confident heading toward Paris-Roubaix next weekend.

Last year, he was third in his Roubaix debut and will be one of the hot favorites for victory.

“I am where I want to be,” he said. “Amstel is a race that doesn’t suit me as well as De Ronde. I am happy to be at the front again and it was a matter of decisions to try to take the win today.

“I think the shape is good. Roubaix is a completely different race. We have one week for that one.”

After Roubaix, van der Poel takes a short break to reload for a likely debut at the Giro d’Italia in May.

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