34-year-old Enrico Gasparotto delivers a big win for Wanty – Groupe Gobert at Sunday's Amstel Gold Race

34-year-old Enrico Gasparotto turned back the clock at Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race in the Netherlands, taking his first pro victory since he won the very same event back in 2012.

The Wanty – Groupe Gobert rider jumped clear of a whittled-down peloton with Tinkoff’s Michael Valgren on the Cauberg, the final climb of the race, just after catching an attacking Tim Wellens (Lotto – Soudal). The pair then managed to hold out over a flat final 1.8 kilometers to contest the win between themselves. An exhausted Valgren was unable to put up much of a fight in the sprint, allowing Gasparotto to freewheel over the final few meters to his a second career Amstel Gold title. He paid tribute as he crossed the line to former teammate Antoine Demoitié, who died following a collision with a motorbike at Gent-Wevelgem in March.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani – CSF) led the bunch across the line a few seconds later to take third place.

Top 10

An 11-rider breakaway — with Americans Alex Howes (Cannondale) and Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling) in among the group — jumped clear early on in the 258km race from Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt. The escapees were given some breathing room, but once the gap got up around five minutes, the pack began to gradually close down the advantage.

The tough climbs whittled down both the breakaway and the peloton over the course of the afternoon. Pre-race favorites and former winners Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) were among those dropped well before the finish line on the up-and-down parcours.

Slowly but surely, the peloton brought the breakaway back, ultimately making the catch inside the final 15 kilometers.

2013 winner Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) tried to go solo with around 8km remaining, but he could not open up much of an advantage. Then it was Wellens’ turn to try an attack. The 24-year-old Belgian caught Kreuziger and sailed past as the race approached the Cauberg. He took an advantage of around 15 seconds into the foot of the climb, but that wasn’t enough to hold off a charging pack.

Gasparotto led a succesfful attempt to bridge to Wellens and then pressed on with Valgren in tow. A much-reduced peloton lacked organization in the chase, allowing the duo to maintain the gap as the road flattened out.

A savvy Gasparotto slotted in behind Valgren for much of the final kilometer, forcing the Danish rider to face the wind for a few hundred meters. When Gasparotto made his move with around 200 meters remaining, Valgren did not have the energy to follow, given the veteran time to savor the moment, and to honor Demoitié at the line.

“This victory is incredible,” said Gasparotto. “Yesterday, Antoine’s wife came to our hotel to meet us.

“It was hugely emotional, one of the most of my life.”

Three seconds behind Gasparotto at the line, Colbrelli won the sprint for the final spot on the podium, ahead of Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge).

Amstel Gold Race results