Australian Amanda Spratt sprinted to fourth place as Team BikeExchange lit up a thrilling and tense edition of the Amstel Gold Race.
The squad were on the front foot all day as Lucy Kennedy made it into a strong breakaway group of 19 riders in the opening half of the race, before the move was eventually shutdown when Anna van der Breggen bridged across, with Grace Brown glued to the world champion’s wheel.
The race then came back together, but the pace was relentless with Kennedy setting a rapid tempo over the climbs before Annemiek van Vleuten made her move up the Cauberg, drawing a select group clear with two laps to go.
However, with no cooperation amongst the attackers, the group was quickly closed down and Brown took full advantage of the hesitation as she launched a stinging attack of her own. Only one rider could follow the Brugge – De Panne winner and the duo quickly stretched their advantage out to 30 seconds, with Spratt and Kennedy tucked away in the chase group behind.
Brown continued to hold the chasers at bay as she went solo with 15km to go, but the 28-year-old was finally reeled back in at the foot of the final ascent of the Cauberg with less than 3km remaining. Despite numerous attacks over the climb, the day came down to a reduced bunch sprint, with Spratt narrowly missing out on another podium finish in Berg en Terblijt as Marianne Vos took the win.
“The whole race was just an amazing team effort! We came in with a plan and I have to say that Lucy Kennedy in particular was really awesome, she was on fire, making it so hard and she was always in the moves early to take the pressure off for us.
The girls did such a good job of looking after me all day, it was really good in the final to have Grace away and I thought for a while that she might actually pull it off, but again I could sit back and watch other people panic basically.
It just came down to the last time up the Cauberg and it never feels nice the last time up the Cauberg. I was happy to be in that front group and fourth is a good result, but I’m mostly proud of the teamwork today.
I know that I can have a good sprint in that situation, and I was trying to position myself of Vos’ wheel. I probably made a mistake in the final, I lost it a little a bit, so I’m a little bit disappointed with that, but it’s a great way to start the week.”
Alejandro González-Tablas (Sports Director):
“It was a really good day, everybody was in the position they needed to be in, everybody did their job as planned. We had a few riders who had a good day, but we had Lucy who had a really good day and she was able to support the team and race aggressively and put us on the front foot all the time.
Ane [Santesteban] was great too, always supporting Spratty and guiding her through the race, and then Grace just did her thing, as always! It was a pity she was caught at the bottom of the Cauberg, but it meant that Spratty had a free ride into the Cauberg.
Spratt was fourth, but I feel like she could have got third, I think that wasn’t that far away, but it is how it is and it’s a good start to the Ardennes week.”
2021 Amstel Gold Race – Results:
1. Marianne Vos 3:00:20
2. Demi Vollering ST
3. Annemiek van Vleuten ST
4. Amanda Spratt (Team BikeExchange) ST
Photo Courtesy of Getty Sport.