Annemiek van Vleuten takes second in a grandstand finish at Amstel Gold

Sun 21 Apr 2019

Double world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten took second place in a nail-biting finale at the sixth edition of the women’s Amstel Gold Race.

Racing on home soil, the 36-year-old just ran out of road in a heroic attempt to reel in eventual winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing) on the run to the line.

An Attacking Day

There were attacks from the gun as seven riders jumped out of the peloton to form the breakaway. The bunch were happy enough to allow the escapees to go clear and they eventually opened up an advantage of over five minutes.

But with the gap coming down rapidly, a counter move was launched back in the peloton as CCC – Liv upped the pace, causing a reaction from the pre-race favourites. Triple Tour Down Under champion Amanda Spratt was alert to the move and quickly followed, with Van Vleuten also joining the 14-rider split.

The break was reeled back as the race reached the Cauberg for the first time and attacks soon followed with both Spratt and Van Vleuten making attempts to go clear. However, nothing was sticking and the pair had to work together to close down rival attacks.

Grandstand Finish

With a lull in the pace, Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) went solo over the second ascent of the Cauberg, but the Brit was brought back after some strong work from Van Vleuten as the race hit two laps to go. Spratt then sensed an opportunity to attack and jumped clear with two riders, opening up a gap of 40 seconds before being brought back heading onto the final lap.

Not content with waiting until the finale, Spratt attacked again inside the final eight kilometres, but with the bunch closing in the Australian sat up, with the race set for a showdown on the Cauberg.

It was Niewiadoma who was the first to make a move as the pack hit the slopes, with Van Vleuten initially struggling to go with the acceleration. However, as they reached the crest, Van Vleuten was coming back fast, but just ran out of road in a grandstand finish.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“The team was really awesome, we were really racing today from kilometre 30 onwards. We sacrificed Grace BrownGracie Elvin and Moniek Tenniglo on the front to make the race hard on the narrow roads until the Eyserboswerg and it was great for me and Spratty, we were just sat in the wheels while the bunch was splitting up. They should be proud to have played a part in this race.”

“I had a flashback to La Course! I had moments when I thought ‘she’s too far away’, then I started to believe I could do it and that it was still possible. I gave everything I had, I saw a small rise and I got out of the saddle and I was coming closer and closer, but it wasn’t long enough.”

“I think for the team we can take confidence going into Fleche and Liege. We can be really proud, I’m also very proud, this is my home country and to race like this with live TV coverage in front of all these fans is where you want to be.”

Martin Vestby (Sports Director):
“We really made the race aggressive today and made it a hard race from early on. Looking at the finish and seeing all the top riders looking tired at the end, I think it’s clear we managed to make it tough for everyone.”

“In the end it almost worked perfectly with Annemiek and Spratty, I think we really went 100% in for one goal and when you’ve done more or less everything you can, second place isn’t so bad.”

“Of course we wanted to win and it was really close, but I don’t think we would change too much looking back at the race and we should be happy with the result.”

Amstel Gold Race Results:
1. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon SRAM Racing) 3:25:48
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) ST
3. Marriane Vos (CCC-Liv) +0:10

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.