Kreuziger comes close to victory in the Amstel Gold RaceSun 15 Apr 2018
2013 Amstel Gold Race winner Roman Kreuziger came close to taking a second victory today in the 53rd edition of the lengthy 262kilometre Ardennes classic, after breaking away from a lead group of favourites in the final three kilometres.
In the end it came down to a head-to-head sprint after six and a half hours of racing, with Michael Valgren (Astana) pushing ahead in the closing moment to claim the 2018 victory with Kreuziger taking second for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
Nine make the breakaway
With warm, welcoming conditions at the start line in Maastricht, the scene was set for a long day out in the saddle. In the opening kilometres a group of nine riders formed the day’s breakaway and with distance on their side, the peloton allowed the escapees to gain a maximum advantage of 15minutes and 30seconds after 55kilometres was completed.
Team Movistar and Quickstep-Floors did the initial chasing at the head of the peloton as the riders slowly ticked off each of the 35climbs one-by-one, and the breakaway’s advantage began to gradually decrease.
Kreuziger shows he means business
With 30kilometres to go the breakaway reduced in size and their advantage hovered just one minute ahead. The pace began to increase and Kreuiziger lifted the tempo on one of the final few climbs as the peloton drastically shrunk in size.
A flurry of attacks came on the Keutenberg and Kreuziger made a strong move with Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain Merida) following his tracks.
The final decisive move
The final time up the Cauberg climb, Kreuziger and Garparotto worked together to successfully stay away and make it across to the remaining breakaway riders, but as they passed the finish line, the chasing group of favourites was in hot pursuit.
Finally, the bridge was made with 13kilometres to go and the front of the race swelled to nine, with race favourites such as Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Alaphilippe (Quickstep-Floors), Jakob Fugslang (Astana) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) present.
Kreuziger waited patiently as the tension rose and after a strong attack by Valgren in the last three kilometres, Kreuziger was the only rider to react. The pair remained ahead with the 31-year-old taking a well fought second place for Mitchelton-SCOTT to kick off their Ardennes campaign.
Roman Kreuziger - Second place
“It was a long final 40kilometres and I spent some extra energy off the front with Enrico Gasparotto and maybe Michael Valgren had something more in the final, but our goal was to be on the podium and we achieved that.
“It’s a pity to lose, because it’s a big classic and I would like to win again after five years since the last time. We knew the guys behind were closing pretty quick and there were some fast guys in there, but chapeau to Michael he showed his class today.
“If I arrived to the sprint with Sagan or Alaphilippe I would be fifth or sixth and that was not our goal we wanted to show our jersey and do our race and I think we did in the best way that we could .
"I am happy with second place, of course I wanted to win the race again but if you think about it how normally I can sprint then it is a big victory today.
“I had really good information from the team car, so I knew what the gap was and didn’t look over my shoulder until we had crossed the line. This race was one of my goals for the season and it is really good to start the Ardennes Classics week with a podium.”
Matt White - Sport director
“It has always been a happy hunting group for us here at this race, with this being our fifth podium finish in seven years, so it is our most consistent classics race.”
“Roman has won this race before on this same course, so he is no stranger to this sort of final and he showed today he was one of the strongest guys, forcing the move in a crucial section and having the legs to go again when the other guys got across to him, it shows he is in great shape.”
Amstel Gold Race results:
1. Michael Valgren (Astana) 6:40:07
2. Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain Merida) +0:02
Photo courtesy of Getty Images