CYCLING: Stunning finish-line win for van der Poel in Amstel Gold Race!

Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel can't believe his come-from-behind win in the Amstel Gold race!

/Updated: see Endnote/ The race for the 54th Amstel Gold Race was surely a sprint to the line for France’s Julian Alaphilippe and Dane Jakob Fuglsang. But then came Mathieu van der Poel and the home fans went crazy for the first Dutch winner of this race in 20 years!

The pack expanded and contracted during the 265.7 km race, but the pack was together with just 36 km remaining, when Alaphilippe attacked, followed by Fuglsang and Matteo Trentin (ITA). But Trentin fell back and rode with Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski while Alaphilippe and Fuglsang sailed away with a gap of 40 seconds with just 3 km left.

But the lead was cut in half with 2 km remaining, and the peloton was closing. With just 1,000 m left, Kwiatkowski had reached the leaders, but van der Poel was leading a ferocious charge that had caught Trentin.

The pack kept closing and into the final straight, van der Poel caught up and even with Alaphilippe sprinting, whipped past and astonished himself with the victory at the line. Australia’s Simon Clarke, part of the chase group with van der Poel, ended up second with Fuglsang third and Alaphilippe fourth.

Van der Poel, 24, is having a career year, winning the Grand Prix de Denain (FRA: 1.HC), Dwars Door Vlaanderen (BEL: World Tour), La Fleche Brabanconne (BEL: 1.HC) and two fourths in the World Tour cobbled classics Gent-Wevelgem (BEL) and Ronde van Vlaanderen (BEL). The Amstel Gold victory is his second career World Tour victory in 18 days, after having not won a World Tour race before!

His victory is the first for a Dutch rider since Erik Dekker in 2001, who won over American Lance Armstrong.

The women’s Amstel Gold Race – the sixth – had its own share of drama at the finish. In a year dominated by the Dutch, Canada’s Alison Jackson attacked on the final climb with about 3 km left. She was unable to break away from reigning World Tour champ Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), but then Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma raced by and opened her own lead with 2 km left.

Niewiadoma would not be denied and had a clear lead into the final straight and held off van Vleuten at the line. The Pole was only the second rider – after Tour leader Marta Bastianelli (ITA) – to win a race this season against the Dutch talent.

Bastianelli remained in the seasonal lead and the race also saw the return of British star (and 2015 World Champion) Lizzie Deignan (GBR) from maternity. She pushed the pace at times and finished a very creditable 19th in her return. Summaries:

UCI World Tour/Amstel Gold Race
Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt (NED) ~ 21 April 2019
(Full results here)

Final Standings (265.7 km): 1. Mathieu van der Poel (NED), 6:28:18; 2. Simon Clarke (AUS), 6:28:18; 3. Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), 6:28:18; 4. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), 6:28:18; 5. Maxmilian Schachmann (GER), 6:28:18; 6. Bjorg Lambrecht (BEL), 6:28:18; 7. Alessandro de Marchi (ITA), 6:28:18; 8. Valentin Madouas (FRA), 6:28:18; 9. Romain Bardet (FRA), 6:28:18; 10. Matteo Trentin (ITA), 6:28:18.

UCI Women’s World Tour/Amstel Gold Race
Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt (NED) ~ 21 April 2019
(Full results here)

Final Standings (126.8 km): 1. Kasia Niewiadoma (POL), 3:25:48; 2. Annemiek Van Vleuten (NED), 3:25:48; 3. Marianne Vos (NED), 3:25:58; 4. Annika Langvad (DEN), 3:25:58; 5. Soraya Palladin (ITA), 3:25:48; 6. Cecile Uttrup Ludwig (DEN), 3:25:58; 7. Demi Vollering (NED), 3:25:58; 8. Marta Bastianelli (ITA), 3:26:18; 9. Alison Jackson (CAN), 3:26:18; 10. Elisa Balsamo (ITA), 3:26:18. Also in the top 25: 12. Tayler Wiles (USA), 3:26:21; … 18. Ruth Winder (USA), 3:28:15; … 20. Katie Hall (USA), 3:28:15.

/Endnote: Thanks to reader Peter Lemeer for noting that the last Dutch rider to win the men’s Amstel Gold Race was Erik Dekker in 2001, not Michael Boogerd in 1999 (both of whom beat Lance Armstrong of the U.S.! Our apologies for the error; thanks to Peter for the sharp eyes!/