Van Vleuten fights hard for third at Amstel Gold RaceSun 16 Apr 2017
Dutch ace Annemiek van Vleuten finished in third place at the Amstel Gold Race today, sprinting onto a hometown podium after a hard fought finale.
ORICA-SCOTT rode aggressively as a tough windswept race unfolded with Australian national champion Katrin Garfoot making the first split alongside Gracie Elvin, Amanda Spratt and Van Vleuten.
Unfortunate mechanicals affected the run in for the team as the race continued to break apart over the four ascents of the Cauberg with Garfoot affected at a crucial moment in the final 30kilometres.
Next up an untimely flat for Van Vleuten saw Spratt and Sarah Roy wait and then play a huge role in bringing Van Vleuten back into contact before riding hard to bridge across to three leaders on the final circuit that preempted a late attack by Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans).
Van der Breggen held on to take the solo victory with Van Vleuten crossing the line in third place in a photo finish with Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3).
“It was a bit confusing at the finish,” said Van Vleuten. “The positioning of the line was strange, there was another line before the actual finish line and I thought I was already there and I suddenly thought no, I’m fourth! But in the end it was joint third, so that’s ok.”
“Sarah Roy was really amazing, she brought me back to the front group the third time up the Cauberg and then the attacks started to come again and I thought this is going to be hard to win today.
“I gave it everything I had, there was some strong climbers there and I knew I couldn’t beat them on the climb so I tried to go before and then Anna jumped from my wheel. Then it was a sprint for second and it’s really special for me to come third at my first Amstel Gold Race in my hometown.”
The Australian outfit continues to impress at the 2017 spring classics with a combination of gutsy performances and top results, a sentiment echoed by sport director Gene Bates.
“I think it was really good for Annemiek to get that result today,” said Bates. “She has been chasing hard all spring and every race we do she is trying to win and it's nice for her to get that result. It wasn’t a win and that’s always our objective, but third place is just reward I think.”
“We knew that we wanted to have numbers in the final and that was going to be Annemiek, Katrin and Spratty. After Katrin’s puncture and a few other mishaps we ended up with just Annemiek at the front and she really had a lot of work to do.
“She pieced it together really well, it was a great move with ten kilometres go and you can see she is a real fighter. We showed some great signs for the races to come and it looks really positive for us.”
How it happened:
An overcast and slightly chilly morning welcomed the riders to the start in Maastricht for the first women’s edition of the Amstel Gold Race since 2003 and a tough parcours covering 121kilometres and 17climbs.
A fast and aggressive race started to unfold around the 50kilometre mark as the field began to split into two large front groups with many smaller bunches chasing behind.
The first time over the indomitable Cauberg and the lead group of around 35riders held one-minute over the chasers, ORICA-SCOTT were well represented at the front with Elvin, Garfoot, Spratt and Van Vleuten all making the split.
Wind formed echelons continued on the ascent as the leaders started to fight tooth and nail to force a winning split. With 25kilometres remaining four leaders had 30seconds on a chasing group of 16riders.
The situation changed yet again on the last lap as the quartet were caught and passed by an elite trio of Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans), Elisa Longo Borgini (Wiggle-High5) and Niewiadoma.
Holding around 20seconds the trio were chased by a group of twenty that included Van Vleuten as the race hit the final ten kilometres.
Three became six with eight kilometres to go as Van Vleuten made the jump alongside Coryn Rivera (Team-Sunweb) and Van der Breggen.
The fourth and final ascent of the Cauberg saw Van der Breggen off the front with a 30second advantage as Van Vleuten chased hard behind with three others.
The Olympic champion held her lead into the final kilometre to take the win with Van Vleuten jumping onto a home podium in joint third place with Niewiadoma.
Amstel Gold Race results:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) 03:15:57
2. Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) 03:16:52
3. Annemiek van Vleuten (ORICA-SCOTT) ST
3. Kasia Niewiadoma (WM3) ST
Photos courtesy of ©TDWsport.com