April 15, 2018
Amstel Gold Race 2018 – Maastricht – Berg en Terblijt : 263 km
The 2018 Amstel Gold Race was a road cycling one-day race that took place on 15 April 2018 in the Netherlands.
April 15, 2018
Amstel Gold Race 2018 – Maastricht – Berg en Terblijt : 263 km
The 2018 Amstel Gold Race was a road cycling one-day race that took place on 15 April 2018 in the Netherlands. It was the 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race and the sixteenth event of the 2018 UCI World Tour. The race starts in Maastricht and finishes in Berg en Terblijt, containing 35 categorised climbs, covering a total distance of 263 kilometres (163 miles). With a newly redesigned finale, no single stand-out favourite, and all the usual risks, challenges and excitement of more than six hours of racing along narrow, winding, constantly undulating country roads mean this year’s Amstel Gold Race can be summed up in just two words: completely unpredictable.
Michael Valgren (Astana) took victory at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, beating Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) in a two-up sprint, with Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain-Merida) crossing the line just behind for third after failing to catch the duo. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the sprint for fourth place.
It’s the second major one-day victory for the Dane after his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad triumph in February, and it came about in similar circumstances as Astana once again exploited a numerical advantage in the lead group in the race’s finale.
When Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked on the Guelhemmerberg, the penultimate climb of the day, a group of eight riders – plus a few breakaway remnants – went clear, and Astana were the only team with two riders, Jakob Fuglsang joining his compatriot.
Fuglsang attacked repeatedly in a bid to put pressure on Valverde and the other big-name favourites in the group, which also contained Sagan, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), along with Kreuziger and Gasparotto, who’d previously attacked ahead of the Cauberg.
With five kilometres remaining, and the final climb of the Bemeleberg out of the way, Valgren launched his first attack, but it was swiftly closed down by Wellens and Sagan. There was no such response on the second time that Valgren went with 2.5km to go.
Sagan was on the front of the group but while Kreuziger went off in pursuit, the world champion stayed put in a game of brinksmanship with Valverde and Alaphilippe. Gasparotto then set off in pursuit, but nothing came from the five-star favourites, and in the blink of an eye they effectively marked each other out of the race.
Wellens finally caved in but it was too late, and Valgren and Kreuziger headed under the flame rouge with a large enough advantage to play out the sprint among themselves, while Gasparotto dangled behind but never managed to regain contact. Kreuziger led it out but Valgren soon responded and won convincingly.
After getting off the phone with Astana boss Alexander Vinokourov, Valgren was in high spirits in his post-race interview.
“He said that he saw a great team today, and I can only agree with him. We were super focused today, we had some really strong riders, Laurens de Vreese was working super hard at the beginning, Omar [Fraile] was working hard for me, then Jakob was setting up the finale for me, so in the end, it was perfect for us today,” said Valgren.
“Me and Jakob worked well together. He was super strong and made the other guys tired. My second attack was the good one and I finished it off. He was yelling in the radio ‘come on you can finish this!’. I did so, and I’m so happy for myself and for the team.”
Sagan led the rest of the group home for fourth, followed by Valverde, Wellens, and Alaphilippe, with Fuglsang a few seconds back. Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), who had been part of the original breakaway that survived deep into the race, hung on for ninth place, while Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Soudal) attacked from the chase group in the finale to clinch a top 10.
Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Sergio Henao (Team Sky), Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida), and Michael Woods (EF-Drapac) all finished in the main chase group of 10 at 53 seconds. 2015 champion and last year’s runner-up Michal Kwiatkowski slipped back to eventually finish at 2:11 in a group with Dylan Teuns (BMC), Rui Costa (UAE), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and Michael Matthews (Sunweb), who’d punctured ahead of the Cauberg.
How it unfolded
The riders gathered in Maastricht under clear blue skies for the 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race, the first part in the Ardennes Classics triptych, even if the race takes place in the hills of Limburg, Holland, rather than the Belgian Ardennes.
After a minute’s silence in memory of Michael Goolaerts, who tragically died after Paris-Roubaix last week, the riders rolled out, with 263 kilometres ahead of them. The course would twist its way through the Limburg countryside, with no fewer than 35 climbs on the menu. The organisers replicated last year’s format – where the Cauberg preceded the Guelhemmerberg and Bemelerberg instead of acting as the final climb – and even chose some narrower roads in the finale in hope of repeating the spectacle of 12 months ago.
A breakaway of 12 riders went clear early on, containing: Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Lawson Craddock (EF-Drapac), Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). They were allowed to open up a huge lead of 16 minutes, and as a result were able to go deep into the race, with Craddock even landing a top 10 finish.
The early afternoon passed without major incident as the peloton, suddenly awake, set about steadily reducing the deficit, with Movistar and Bora-Hansgrohe the chief contributors. The climbs came and went but the real action would be preserved for later in the day.
Well aware of the role the Kruisberg played 12 months ago in igniting the race, the favourites and their teams begun to assert themselves as they entered the final 50km of racing. Bahrain-Merida turned up the gas ahead of the Gulpenerberg, and then teams sent second-tier names – such as Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) to raise the pace and thin out the peloton.
That they did, and while there were no attacks on the Kruisberg this time, Gorka Izaguirre attacked over the top of the Eyserbosweg shortly after, and the peloton began to split under the pressure. The other Izaguirre brother, Jon, was the next to go and went solo for a couple of kilometres, before being caught on the Keutenberg, where the favourites were now fully to the fore.
Kreuziger was the next to attack and, as would happen later, Sagan let it go. Gasparotto joined Kreuziger and by the middle of the Cauberg they had caught the six leaders – Tizza, Tamkink, and Smit having lost contact. Meanwhile Pieter Serry led the main peloton – now containing around 30 riders – to lay the foundations for an Alaphilippe attack. The Frenchman’s move was short-lived, as was one from Fuglsang, but Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) did succeed in going clear with FDJ’s Rudy Molard, and they crossed the finish line for the penultimate time a few seconds clear, but 16 seconds behind the lead group.
Sergio Henao (Team Sky) helped bring that duo to heel in time for the Guelhemmerberg, but Team Sky would ultimately miss out as the group split and Valverde made his acceleration. Wellens, Alaphilippe, Valgren, and Sagan were all swift in their response, but Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, Van Avermaet and other pre-race favourites missed out.
Fuglsang initially didn’t make the cut but eventually managed to drag himself across. How important that would turn out to be.
The lead group were soon caught, while those who’d missed the boat drifted to 20 seconds, despite Daryl Impey’s attempt at a counter-attack. Onto the Bemeleberg and remarkably it was Riesebeek, who’d been out in the break all day, who was the chief aggressor. Fuglsang responded both times, forcing Valverde onto the defensive on the second occasion.
As Fulgsang then set about leading the group, Valgren could be seen lurking right at the back of it, and soon came the inevitable attack. While his first attempt was swiftly stamped out, his second succeeded in turning the bigger names against each other.
So, while Valverde, Sagan, and Alaphilippe had seemed like the strongest riders in the race, they were outmuscled tactically by what turned out to be the strongest team.
1 Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team 6:40:07
2 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott
3 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:02
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:19
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:23
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:00:30
10 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:36
11 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:53
12 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
13 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
14 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
15 Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
16 Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
17 Matteo Bono (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
18 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
19 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
20 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
21 Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij 0:00:56
22 Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:19
23 Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:51
24 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:02:11
25 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
26 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
27 Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates
28 Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
29 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
30 Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept Club
31 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
32 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
33 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
34 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
35 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
36 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team
37 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:03:15
38 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert 0:03:26
39 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
40 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
41 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
42 Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
43 Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
44 Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team
45 Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
46 Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
47 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
48 Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
49 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
50 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
51 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
52 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
53 Axel Domont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
54 Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
55 Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo
56 Simone Ponzi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
57 Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
58 Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport
59 Manuele Mori (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
60 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
61 Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data
62 Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
63 Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
64 Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin
65 Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
66 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
67 José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
68 Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
69 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
70 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
71 Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
72 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
73 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
74 August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
75 Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data
76 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
77 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
78 Simon Gerrans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
79 Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
80 Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
81 Edward Dunbar (Irl) Aqua Blue Sport
82 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
83 Benoit Vaugrenard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
84 Carlos Verona (Spa) Mitchelton-Scott
85 Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
86 Paul Martens (Ger) LottoNL-Jumbo
87 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb
88 Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team
89 Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team
90 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
91 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
92 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
93 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Sunweb
94 Bram Tankink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:03:35
95 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:04:50
96 Scott Davies (GBr) Dimension Data
DNF Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
DNF Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
DNF Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
DNF Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky
DNF Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky
DNF Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky
DNF Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
DNF Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
DNF Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Edward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb
DNF Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNF Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNF Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNF Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNF Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNF Alberto Bettiol (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNF Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNF Maarten Wynants (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo
DNF Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Michael Gogl (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
DNF Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Steff Cras (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Willie Smit (RSA) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Davide Cimolai (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Rory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNF Logan Owen (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
DNF Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data
DNF Johann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data
DNF Jaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data
DNF Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
DNF Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNF Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNF Floris Gerts (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNF Nick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
DNF Roy Goldstein (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Benjamin Perry (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Tyler Williams (USA) Israel Cycling Academy
DNF Mark Christian (GBr) Aqua Blue Sport
DNF Aaron Gate (NZl) Aqua Blue Sport
DNF Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
DNF Calvin Watson (Aus) Aqua Blue Sport
DNF Casper Pedersen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
DNF Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Simon Antonini (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNF Mark McNally (GBr) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
DNF Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNF Yoann Bagot (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNF Tanguy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNF Justin Mottier (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNF Patrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept Club
DNF Kevin Reza (Fra) Vital Concept Club
DNF Damiano Cunego (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNF Marco Tizza (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNF Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNF Marino Kobayashi (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
DNF Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini