News: Amstel Gold Mens

After a nail biting final 70km in Amstel Gold with the stars of the road flexing their muscles, Wout van Aert and Tom Pidcock when side by side in a race to the finish line and it took a photo finish  to see who it was that got to the line first – Van Aert it was mm ahead of Pidcock.

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News: Amstel Gold Mens

On a new course that was Covid friendly, the riders in this long running classic faced 219 km, 38 climbs, and almost 2,800 meters of altitude on a circuit east of Maastricht. Following the start in Valkenburg, a 10-man breakaway formed and was able to gain a lead of approximately four minutes over the peloton.

The race situation remained unchanged for quite some time until with 80 km remaining, the chase started to intensify and the gap to the leaders began to dwindle. Over the next laps, the peloton ramped up the speed, causing some riders to lose contact with the field. With 50 km to the line, Maximilian Schachmann and Cesare Benedetti were involved in a crash, with Max re-joining the peloton a little later.

On the penultimate lap, the race exploded and a selection formed at the head of the race and then on the last climb of the Cauberg, eventual winner Wout Van Aert, together with world champion Alaphilippe, Pidcock and others, went full on. On the last lap Pidcock, Van Aert and the German Maximilian Schachmann were clear and it was these three who sprinted it out to decide who would win the Amstel Gold Race.

Wout Van Aert: “I didn’t dare believe it. I sprinted the last few metres with my eyes closed”, a relieved Van Aert said. “The jury only told me just before the podium ceremony that I had won. It was very difficult to say, that was clear from the time the jury needed to make it final. I have never experienced this before.”

“I could always count on Jonas, Sam and Primoz just before the final”, the best one-day rider of 2020 said. “They jumped well with almost all the attacks. It was a shame that Primoz had a mechanical problem in the final. The team really rode for the win today.” Allowing Van Aert to finish his last race of his classic spring in style. “I am very proud of this victory and my my performances in the classics. I have competed for this victory in almost every race and have always been in top shape. I am very happy to go into the holidays with this victory. The bike will be put aside for a while now.”

Van Aert end his spring programme with wins in the Amstel Gold Race and Gent-Wevelgem, two stage wins and a second place in the final classification of Tirreno-Adriatico, the second place in the Brabantse Pijl and the third place in Milano-San Remo.

Tom Pidock (second): The Yorkshire rider launched a move on the final lap and headed into the final kilometre alongside Van Aert and Maximilian Schachmann. Launching his sprint, Pidcock came off the wheel of Van Aert and almost came through to take a famous victory. “I should have started first because I was faster. That is a great learning moment,” he said to NOS. “I gave Wout a small gap for the sprint, but we were too close to the finish. I was too far behind him and should have stayed in his wheel. I did ride a good race. I think I was the strongest in the race and I am happy with that feeling. But it’s frustrating that the difference is so small.”

Maximilian Schachmann (Bora hansgrohe, 3rd): “I knew that it would be very difficult in that group, because we were quite far out from the finish. I wanted to try something, of course, and I gave it a go with 1500m to the finish, because I believed that I had the best chance at that point. But unfortunately it didn’t quite work out, because Van Aert immediately latched onto my rear wheel. Nevertheless, it was a very nice race, although it was a different feeling without spectators on the road. But I’m glad and grateful that we were able to race.”

Michael Matthews (BikeExchange) 4th: “The race opened up a lot later than we thought. We thought it would be an aggressive race throughout, but with such a big breakaway group up the road there was no point opening it up too early. They were playing games and with three Ineos in the front it was hard to see which move was going to go, but then on the top of the second to last climb the three of them got away. We all kept believing it would come back, a fair few teams missed it. It was up to us and a couple of other teams to try and bring it back, but we just fell short in the end.”

“I gave it my best and I was fourth in the end and I think after crashing quite badly on Wednesday, this is not a bad result. We brought a strong team in with riders like Esteban to make sure we could cover those hard moves in the final there and he did a great job, the whole team did a great job today. They positioned me really well all day and gave me the best opportunity to win the race.”

“I come here with a smile on my face every year and it is my dream to be on the top of the podium. I will continue to fight to try and get there and it will be even sweeter if I get there eventually.”

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