The 51st edition of the Amstel Gold Race saw changing weather conditions and a tough day of racing. Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-GroupGoubert) dealt best with the elements to take the day’s glory after a late attack. Our Belgian fan favorite Serge Pauwels flew the flag for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka in the finale but couldn’t find the legs to compete for the win.
The 250-kilometer-long race through the Dutch province of Limburg started fast and it took about an hour before the first break of the day managed to get up the road. 11 riders were allowed a gap of about 5 minutes.
They stayed out front nearly all day and it was only within the last 50 kilometers that the break fell apart, when the weather suddenly changed. Rain started to become a factor and saw some of the pre-race favorites losing contact with the peloton. On the grueling Keutenberg, the steepest climb in the Netherlands, Edvald Boasson Hagen got dropped together with Philippe Gilbert (BMC) after being held up by a crash. Last year’s winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) was also among those who wouldn’t be in for the win later on.
Boasson Hagen eventually managed to fight his way back to the bunch. However, it was up to the others to make the racing in the late crosswinds. Pauwels tried to ride it smart and moved up to the front of the peloton with around 10 kilometers to go.
The last riders of the early break were caught inside the last 15 kilometers. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) tried to stretch his legs with 10 kilometers to go, but his move didn’t prove to be successful. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) was the next to attack. The Belgian got a gap of nearly 20 seconds but he couldn’t hold on either. Eventual winner Gasparotto was the next to go on the offensive and his attack would be the telling move.
The Italian, who won the race first in 2012, attacked on the final ascent of the Cauberg and only dragged Michael Valgren (Tinkoff) with him. The duo managed to stay away, with Gasparotto having the faster finish. 3rd place went to Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) who led the peloton over the line, including our African team’s best placed finisher Pauwels, who crossed the line 33rd.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
It was a tough race and the rain in the finale made it really hard. I actually felt pretty good all day, but lost my legs somehow in the end. I saw that a lot of other riders had the same problem, possibly from the wet and cold. I moved to the front of the peloton, hoping for a split in the crosswinds. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. That’s racing I guess, so let’s look forward Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Jens Zemke – Sports Director
It was not our day. We wanted to be part of the break. This didn’t happen, even though we tried hard. We then changed our focus on the key stages of the race. Rain and crashes didn’t work to our favor though. Edvald and a few others were held up by a crash on the Keutenberg and had to chase back to the bunch after that. In the finale we had Serge still up along the front of the race, but the final time up the Cauberg was too hard. There are two more races in the Ardennes coming, so we have to keep the moral high and focus on them now.