Amstel – Champion’s Victory for Kwiatkowski


Michael Kwiatkowski took his World Champion stripes to the top step of the podium with a fabulous victory in the Amstel Gold race

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Amstel – Champion’s Victory for Kwiatkowski

Etixx – Quick-Step rider Michal Kwiatkowski achieved one of his career objectives, winning his first Ardennes Classic after sprinting beautifully at the end of Amstel Gold Race.

Watch his sprint here

The UCI World Road Champion won out of a select group at 258km Amstel Gold Race, as the group came together going into the final kilometre after Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) attacked over the top of his teammate Ben Hermans on the Cauberg. The tactic was the same that won Gilbert the 2014 edition of the race, but did not have the same success in the 2015 edition.

Kwiatkowski stayed composed on the Cauberg with 2km to go, as it looked like Gilbert, and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE), had a chance to make it to the line. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) bridged the gap with the race now absolutely flat stick.

The three leaders though were unable to stop a group of about 18 riders coming back together to contest the finish where and Kwiatkowski waited and waited and then when the smallest of gaps opened, he attacked through it, around his rivals from four or five back to launch his sprint for the victory.

Valverde finished 2nd, and Matthews 3rd.


Kwiatkowski was escorted to the key moment on the Cauberg by several of his teammates. Tony Martin was out front in the closing stages in a small break that allowed Kwiatkowski to conserve some energy in the peloton leading into that point with BMC controlling the peloton as best it could.

Collaboration within the breakaway, which was eventually down to Simon Clarke, Nibali, and Martin, became an issue and Clarke went solo with 14km to go and held a gap of 9 seconds. That was never going to be enough and Clarke was caught with about 8km to go in the race.

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) then attacked but he was marked by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) and with the BMC rider working for Gilbert, the move was doomed and it was left to Hermans of BMC to attack on the Cauberg before Gilbert then made his move only for it not to pay off with the finish too far away for it to stick.

Kwiatkowski is just the fourth rider in cycling history to win Amstel Gold Race in the Rainbow Jersey. Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Jan Raas were the other three riders to accomplish this feat. Kwiatkowski is now fourth in the UCI WorldTour Individual Ranking whilst Etixx – Quick-Step is now ranked 1st in the UCI WorldTour Team Ranking.

“This was a great day for me, the hard work paid off,” Kwiatkowski said. “I’m really thankful that my teammates were so amazing today. I was always in the top 20 or 25 positions. I could relax the whole day. We had Tony in the important breakaway and that was crucial for me”.

“Of course I was suffering as well in a race with so many climbs. The second-to-last time up the Cauberg I said to Gianni Meersman ‘you know, I’m not feeling so good today.’ But he said to me straight away that everyone is suffering with 34 climbs at this race and I have to make it. That gave me a lot of motivation before the last time up the Cauberg”.


“I’m really thankful they believed in me until the last moment. In cycling you never know what to expect from those around you. You might look around and feel like no one is suffering but you, but you don’t know the true situation until the last important acceleration”.

“For the sprint I was able to sit in the slipstream and breathe a little bit, and that was important to recover from the effort on the Cauberg. I was able to get some energy back to go full gas in the select group sprint and win Amstel Gold Race”.

“It’s an amazing race here, with a difficult race from start to finish and so many fans of cycling on each climb. It’s really special to get this win at the opening race of the Ardennes Classics. Etixx – Quick-Step had a really strong first part of the season leading up to today. We had some bad luck with riders like Tom Boonen being injured before the Cobbled Classics.”

“But we still tried to go for the win as we had many other cards to play. In cycling if you don’t go for it, you’re never going to get the victory. The whole team was happy about the podium at Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix because we tried our best at those races. Today we had the same kind of effort and I am now at the top of the podium. We got the success we were trying so hard for”.


“For sure, winning Amstel Gold Race in the Rainbow Jersey means a lot to both me and the team, and it is another example of how strong we are as a collective. I built up really well for this race, and winning here, which was my goal, I cannot describe my emotions. It’s really big for me at this point in my career. For sure I will celebrate with my teammates tonight. They were key to helping me get this win. Then, we look next to the rest of the Ardennes Classics with great morale.”

Alaphilippe, who was third in the RideLondon Classic in 2014 behind Adam Blythe and Ben Swift, said afterwards “I’m very happy for the team and also for myself, because I finished in the first group. It was a strong team performance today. I was just behind the first group at the top of the last climb of the Cauberg. I saw Michal was in the front, so I was happy with that”.
“But I still wanted to come back to the front group and try to help him. I was there in the first group with 500 metres to go, but I was boxed in and couldn’t do any more to support our leader. But then I saw Michal won the race. It is a big emotion for today and I am very happy for Michal and the team.”

The earlier action was shaped with a breakaway of six riders that established in the first 30km of racing. The group of Laurens De Vreese (Astana Pro Team), Linus Gerdemann (Cult Energy Pro Cycling), Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Timo Roosen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), Mike Terpstra (Team Roompot Oranje Peloton) and Johann Van Zyl (MTN – Qhubeka) worked out to a maximum lead of eleven minutes ahead of the 100km mark before the peloton reacted to reduce the advantage.

As the race all but drew together 35km from the finish, Simon Clarke attacked with David Tanner (IAM Cycling), dropping two surviving early breakaway riders who briefly tacked on to their move. Three additional riders joined them after an unfortunate crash broke up the original chase group of seven. Down to four riders on the penultimate ascent of Cauberg, the break wasn’t 100% committed and outfits began to arrange themselves at the front of the peloton.

Recognising the lack of cooperation, Clarke went alone in a last effort of support for the team, finally caught with eight kilometres to race.

Third for Michael Matthews
His teammate Michael Matthews successfully followed the big favourite of three time winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) up the final ascent of the Cauberg but a chase group caught the pair ahead of the line. The 24-year-old sprinted with everything he had left for third place, equal to his Milano-San Remo result. “For my first time attempting the final at Amstel, I have to be happy with the result,” Matthews said.


“I’m happy with the way I rode, I left everything out there. It’s just unfortunate that it wasn’t for the victory. I went quite deep to follow Gilbert on the climb and I used a lot of energy trying to stay with him. I thought going over the climb we were clear of everyone else but the bunch had a few too many guys and were able to come back to us”.

“I was hoping it was going to be just Gilbert and I in the sprint because I was quite confident in that situation but in the final sprint I just had nothing left and it was just a grovel.”


Another Podium for Valverde
Alejandro Valverde’s endless regularity in the Ardennes classics lived another chapter on Sunday with second place. Valverde was perfectly placed into the left-hand turn leading into the Cauberg and, though initially behind, the Murcia-based rider kicked strongly on the false flat after the hardest part of the ascent to chase down Gilbert (BMC) and Matthews (OGE), the ones who hit the hill the hardest.

In the small group sprint, Valverde was close but not close enough and had to settle for second place, his third podium finish in the Amstel Gold; 2nd in 2008, 3rd in 2013 and the 11th in all three Ardennes classics combined.

“I think you can’t ask for a better result after what I did today; taking 2nd place, into a more open finish than the one on top of the Cauberg, with a field sprint like today’s and after all the hard work by the team… we did everything we could. The incident wasn’t a puncture, but a broken gear. An MTN rider got the radius of his front wheel into my rear one and I had to stop and take the spare bike. It’s true that the race was really on already at that point, but with my team-mates, it wasn’t a problem at all”.

“I think I came into the Cauberg in good position, but after sprinting away from the turn, everyone stopped and I got boxed in. I was arguing to myself, ‘why again, why this always happens to me,’ but fortunately and even though I saw Gilbert opening a really big gap with his attack, I had good legs and as soon as I saw a gap, I jumped and could reach him well”.

“I did really think about keeping the effort and leaving Gilbert and Matthews behind when I caught them, and I accelerated in that moment, hoping that they’d look to each other, but there was no gap for me. I think I was one of the strongest today, I took 2nd, came really close, fought as usual… I think we must stay happy with that.”

“For me, Liège is the race out of the three where I think I stand more chance, the one that suits me best but of course we mustn’t rule anything out for Wednesday. The new climb [Cherave] with 5km to go should change the race and make the peloton ride faster and become a bit smaller at the end. I think there are many, many riders in similar form, I didn’t see anyone standing out – the battle will be close, as well on Wednesday as on Sunday.”



1. Michal Kwiatkowski, Etixx – Quick-Step 6:31:49
2. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team
3. Michael Matthews, Orica GreenEdge
4. Rui Costa, Lampre-Merida
5. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team
6. Tony Gallopin, Lotto Soudal
7. Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
8. Enrico Gasparotto, Wanty – Groupe Gobert
9. Maciej Paterski, CCC Sprandi Polkowice
10. Philippe Gilbert, BMC Racing Team

15. Daniel Martin, Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team

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