Amstel Gold: Michael Valgren wins Dutch Classic

After six and a half hours of racing, it came down to a head to head sprint with Michael Valgren (Astana) pushing ahead in the closing moment to claim the 2018 victory with Roman Kreuziger taking second for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

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Amstel Gold: Michael Valgren wins Dutch Classic

Amstel Gold Race. Impressive win by Michael Valgren  – Photo: ©Bettiniphoto

After impressive teamwork during the day, from closing the gap with the breakaway to Jakob Fuglsang attacking in the final, it was Michael Valgren who finished it off with his second win of the season. Enrico Gasparotto was third

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.

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.

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With 30 kilometres 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 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 13 kilometres 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.

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Michael Valgren: “It was a hard start and then the breakaway got a really big gap, but we had Laurens de Vreese in the front to close this gap, he did a great job. The other riders kept me out of trouble, it was perfect teamwork during the whole day. In the final Jakob Fuglsang worked hard for me, he made all the other riders tired and after that I could attack and I’m happy that I could finish it like this”

Jakob Fuglsang. “It was a good race. I was a little excited to see how I was after a month without racing. But I was really happy with my feeling today. We ended up in the perfect position, together with Michael Valgren, to race for the victory and it’s great that we could finish it like this. I’m happy that I can be part of this victory, and I’m happy for Michael that he won after his second place of a few years ago”

Roman Kreuziger – Second “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.”

1. Michael Valgren Astana Pro Team
2. Roman Kreuziger Mitchelton-Scott
3. Enrico Gasparotto Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 0:02
4. Peter Sagan BORA – hansgrohe 0:19
5. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
6. Tim Wellens Lotto Soudal
7. Julian Alaphilippe Quick-Step Floors
8. Jakob Fuglsang Astana Pro Team 0:23
9. Lawson Craddock Team EF Education First-Drapac0:30
10. Jelle Vanendert Lotto Soudal 0:36

13. Philippe Gilbert Quick-Step Floors
14. Greg Van Avermaet BMC Racing Team
32. Vincenzo Nibali Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
54. Silvan Dillier AG2R La Mondiale
81. Edward Dunbar Aqua Blue Sport
96. Scott Davies Dimension Data





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