Belgian Philippe Gilbert outsprinted 2015 winner Michal Kwiatkowski of Poland to capture his fourth Amstel Gold win in a tactical finale.

VALKENBURG, Netherlands (AFP) — Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert’s strategy to skip Paris-Roubaix following his Tour of Flanders win two weeks ago paid off in Valkenburg on Easter Sunday. The 34-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider defeated fellow former road race world champion and 2015 winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) in a two-man sprint finish to claim the the prestigious Amstel Gold Race for the fourth time.

“In the end with Kwiato we went hard, I saw the guys behind were on the limit — I was too but if you can find one or two percent more it makes the difference,” Gilbert told television cameras. “I told him (Kwiatkowski), ‘We ride until the last K (kilometre) and the best man wins’. That’s the best deal you can make.”

The two breakaway leaders were slowly being caught by five chasers as they played cat and mouse in the final kilometre, with Gilbert teasing Kwiatkowski into launching his bid for victory first, with more than 300 metres left.

Kwiatkowski tied up allowing Gilbert to streak past in the final metres to claim victory in the battle between two former world champions.

“He surprised me a little in the sprint, but it was a headwind so I didn’t panic, and I saw I was getting closer and closer, and it was perfect for me in the end,” said Gilbert.

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Gilbert had already won the Tour of Flanders two weeks ago and Three Days of De Panne in the week leading up to that as he enjoyed a successful cobbled classics season that included second place finishes at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke.

Kwiatkowski had also been in great shape, winning Milan-San Remo — which like the Tour of Flanders is one of cycling’s ‘Monument’ races — and Strade Bianche while finishing second at the Tour of the Algarve.

Switzerland’s Michael Albasini (Orica-Scott) won the five-man sprint for third place while Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), the star performer of the season so far, could manage only 12th.

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