The start of the Ardennes Classics and the Amstel Gold Race saw Michael Valgren (Astana) ride to an impressive victory in Berg en Terblijt. He was followed home by Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) and Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida).
Meanwhile our team saw a particularly strong ride from Serge Pauwels (26th) with Ben King and Tom-Jelte Slagter also having a good day out.
An exciting race saw an early breakaway of over 10 riders went clear with a gap that at one point went to nearly 16 minutes and had a major impact on how the event unfolded over the course that traveled 263km featuring over 30 short, sharp climbs unique to this race.
When the breakaway was finally reeled in the latter stages and splits in the peloton began to occur; Astana through Valgren and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) played prominent roles. Also in the mix were Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) as well as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Pauwels unfortunately just missed out on claiming a spot in the lead group that eventually saw a second, but decisive, attack from Valgren inside 3km to go stay clear and hold on for victory.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
The breakaway went as expected in the early part of the race. It looked like it was a strong breakaway with nine riders and they got given a big lead by the peloton of 15 minutes which was a bit more than expected. This made it a really hard race because the peloton couldn’t afford to take it easy after they started chasing.
So it was a really long and hard effort the whole day. It’s the type of racing I like but the last time on the Cauberg I just missed out on getting to the front group; myself with Bauke Mollema and Rui Costa were only 40 or 50 metres behind but we couldn’t close them which is a shame because maybe a result could have been possible.
So I finished just behind but I think the team did really well. Tom and myself tried our best to be as good as we could.