An action-packed Amstel Gold Race unfolded on Sunday afternoon, between Maastricht and Berg en Terblijt, where after 265.7 tough kilometers, spiced up by 35 climbs, the 54th edition came to a conclusion.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step kicked off the festivities with 37 kilometers remaining, when Dries Devenyns accelerated on the Eyserbosweg with Julian in his wheel, a move to which only a handful of riders could respond. The experienced Dries, who was riding his eighth Amstel Gold Race, ramped up the pace and helped the group increase its lead, before Alaphilippe made his move and was joined only by Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).
The advantage looked slim, but only for a couple of kilometers, as the duo traded turns at the front and put more than 20 seconds into the first chasing group and almost a minute on the peloton. Over the Bemeleberg, the race’s final climb, Julian and Fuglsang carried a big lead over the chasers, but the Dane stopped cooperating with three kilometers to go and decided to sit on Julian’s wheel, so the buffer began tumbling. Minutes later, in a completely surreal way, the third chasing group came back with 500 meters remaining and Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) took the win in the sprint.
Julian finished fourth – his best result in six Amstel Gold Race starts – and cemented his place at the top of the UCI Individual Ranking ahead of the next two Ardennes Classics, Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège, which will bring down the curtain over his spring campaign.
Sports director Geert Van Bondt gave his take on the race: “Our team rode a perfect race today, sticking to the tactics discussed in the morning. Dries made a perfect move on the Eyserbosweg together with Julian, who then attacked and was joined by Fuglsang. Julian kept pushing and they worked well despite some pressure from the chasers until with three kilometers to go, when Fuglsang stopped working. Then the front group closed that big gap in astonishing fashion, Van der Poel took the win and that was that.”
“I was very motivated to do a good race and everything went really well for us, with Dries pushing a hard tempo on the climb and me attacking full gas minutes later. In the final three kilometers, Fuglsang didn’t work anymore and I took the responsibility, pulling alone in the headwind. The gap looked to be big enough to arrive with him at the finish and fight for victory, but somehow the others came from behind really fast and caught us. I’m a bit disappointed, but I’m not down and I am already looking forward to the next races”, an upbeat Julian said at the end of Amstel Gold Race.
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