1. VeloNews / Race Report / Amstel Gold: Valgren upsets favorites with late attack

Amstel Gold: Valgren upsets favorites with late attack

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Michael Valgren upset the favorites to take an impressive victory at the 2018 Amstel Gold Race. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Astana’s Michael Valgren won the Amstel Gold Race in the Limburg region of Holland on Sunday with a late attack out of a select group in the final kilometers. Former Amstel winners Roman Kreuziger (Mitchelton-Scott) and Enrico Gasparotto (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team) rounded out the podium.

Amstel is the second major one-day victory for the Dane this spring, after his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad triumph in February, and it came about in eerily similar circumstances as Astana once again exploited the lead group with a numerical advantage in the race’s finale.

Valgren was quick to credit the work of his teammate and countryman Jakob Fuglsang in his post-race interview, “Me and Jakob work well together. He was super strong and made the other guys tired. My second attack was the good one and I finished it off.”

The Dane used his head just as much as his legs to catch out the big favorites. He timed his attack out of a select group perfectly, launching with just over 2km remaining.

Kreuziger responded while the rest of the group, which included Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Gasparotto, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step), and Tim Wellens (Lott0-Soudal), was left watching as the two riders disappeared up the road.

Due to the group’s hesitation, Kreuziger and Valgren were able to quickly pulled out an insurmountable advantage. Gasparotto would eventually give chase in an attempt to add a third Amstel title to his palmares, but the Italian was unable to close down the gap.

Once it was clear Gasparotto wouldn’t make contact, the sprint was a mere formality, as the powerful Valgren easily came around Kreuziger to take a career-defining victory.

Sagan won the sprint in the reduced bunch for fourth place. American Lawson Craddock (EF Education First-Drapac), who was part of the day-long breakaway, held on through the final kilometers to finish in an impressive ninth place.

Top 10

  • 1. Michael Valgren Andersen, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 6:40:07
  • 2. Roman Kreuziger, (CZE) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :00:00
  • 3. Enrico Gasparotto, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :00:02
  • 4. Peter Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at :00:19
  • 5. Alejandro Valverde, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :00:19
  • 6. Tim Wellens, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:19
  • 7. Julian Alaphilippe, (FRA) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :00:19
  • 8. Jakob Fuglsang, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :00:23
  • 9. Lawson Craddock, (USA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :00:30
  • 10. Jelle Vanendert, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:36

The 53rd edition of the Amstel Gold Race started in Maastricht to kick off the Ardennes Classics. There was a minute’s silence in memory of Michael Goolaerts, who tragically died after Paris-Roubaix last week before the riders rolled out for the 263-kilometer race.

The course featured a shark tooths profile, with 35 climbs of note on tap. The organizers replicated last year’s finish, which placed the Cauberg 18km from the finish, instead of in its traditional place in the finale.

A breakaway of 12 riders got away early. It featured Bram Tankink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tsgabu Grmay (Trek-Segafredo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Craddock, Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport), Marco Tizza (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Willem Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise).

They were allowed to open up a huge lead of 16 minutes and would not be caught until the decisive moments of the race.

The unusually large gap appeared to finally cause concern in the peloton with 70km to go. The favorites’ teams came to the front to put a dent in the break’s significant advantage.

As the pace ramped up and the peloton lined out like a ribbon flowing across the Dutch countryside, the group readied for the first big attacks.

Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) opened proceedings by attacking over the top of the Eyserbosweg with 35km left to race and the peloton began to buckle under the pressure. Shortly after, Gorka’s teammate and brother, Ion, added more pressure by going solo for a few kilometers.

There was a flurry of attacks as the race approached the final climb of the Cauberg. The frantic pace whittled down the leading the bunch to an extremely select group of riders.

Kreuziger attacked leading into the Cauberg. Gasparotto jumped to eventually join Kreuziger, and they caught the six remaining leaders on the slopes of the famed climb. Meanwhile, Pieter Serry (Quick-Step) led the severely reduced peloton behind.

Julian Alaphilippe, never one to pass up an opportunity to attack far out from the finish, jumped away from the group. However, his attack was short-lived, but Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) used the lull to go clear with FDJ’s Rudy Molard.

Sergio Henao (Sky) took to the front of the group to bring this move back just in time for the Guelhemmerberg, but Sky was left with nothing to show for this effort as the group split after a Valverde attack. Wellens, Alaphilippe, Valgren, and Sagan reacted quickly enough to make the cut, while Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, and Van Avermaet were left behind.

Shortly after, the lead group was caught, while a chase group dangled roughly 15 seconds behind. Craddock was dropped during a flurry of attacks with 5km remaining but put in a herculean effort to keep the lead group in sight and hold off the chasers all the way to the finish.

Despite the non-stop action, Sagan, Kreuziger, Valverde, Fuglsang, Valgren, Gasparotto, Alaphilippe, Wellens would find themselves all together with 2.2km remaining. It was at this moment when Valgren launched his lethal attack. Sagan was left in the group to chase while first Kreuziger, and then Gasparotto, jumped away in an attempt to join Valgren.

The remaining favorites appeared content to stare at each other as the leaders rode away to victory. Valgren forced Kreuziger, who was concerned about losing his second place to a hard-charging Gasparotto, to the front with 400 meters remaining. This allowed the Dane to easily come over the top for the win.

The favorites like Sagan, Alaphilippe, and Valverde appeared to have stronger legs, but Valgren and his Astana team used both brain and brawn to topple a field of Goliaths.

 Full Results

  • 1. Michael Valgren Andersen, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, in 6:40:07
  • 2. Roman Kreuziger, (CZE) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :00:00
  • 3. Enrico Gasparotto, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :00:02
  • 4. Peter Sagan, (SVK) BORA – HANSGROHE, at :00:19
  • 5. Alejandro Valverde, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :00:19
  • 6. Tim Wellens, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:19
  • 7. Julian Alaphilippe, (FRA) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :00:19
  • 8. Jakob Fuglsang, (DEN) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :00:23
  • 9. Lawson Craddock, (USA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :00:30
  • 10. Jelle Vanendert, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :00:36
  • 11. Daryl Impey, (RSA) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :00:53
  • 12. Preben Van Hecke, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at :00:53
  • 13. Philippe Gilbert, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :00:53
  • 14. Greg Van Avermaet, (BEL) BMC RACING TEAM, at :00:53
  • 15. Rudy Molard, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at :00:53
  • 16. Floris De Tier, (BEL) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :00:53
  • 17. Matteo Bono, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :00:53
  • 18. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya, (COL) TEAM SKY, at :00:53
  • 19. Jon Izaguirre Insausti, (ESP) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :00:53
  • 20. Michael Woods, (CAN) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :00:53
  • 21. Oscar Riesebeek, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ, at :00:56
  • 22. Gorka Izaguirre Insausti, (ESP) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :01:19
  • 23. Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay, (ETH) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :01:51
  • 24. Michael Matthews, (AUS) TEAM SUNWEB, at :02:11
  • 25. Dylan Teuns, (BEL) BMC RACING TEAM, at :02:11
  • 26. Serge Pauwels, (BEL) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :02:11
  • 27. Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa, (POR) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :02:11
  • 28. Robert Gesink, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :02:11
  • 29. Alexis Vuillermoz, (FRA) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :02:11
  • 30. Quentin Pacher, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB, at :02:11
  • 31. Michal Kwiatkowski, (POL) TEAM SKY, at :02:11
  • 32. Vincenzo Nibali, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :02:11
  • 33. Bob Jungels, (LUX) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :02:11
  • 34. Alessandro De Marchi, (ITA) BMC RACING TEAM, at :02:11
  • 35. Bauke Mollema, (NED) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :02:11
  • 36. Mikel Landa Meana, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :02:11
  • 37. Viacheslav Kuznetsov, (RUS) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at :03:15
  • 38. Jérôme Baugnies, (BEL) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :03:26
  • 39. Kristian Sbaragli, (ITA) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY, at :03:26
  • 40. Toms Skujins, (LAT) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :03:26
  • 41. Pim Ligthart, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ, at :03:26
  • 42. Anthony Roux, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at :03:26
  • 43. Tom Devriendt, (BEL) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :03:26
  • 44. Omar Fraile Matarranz, (ESP) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :03:26
  • 45. Bert-Jan Lindeman, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :03:26
  • 46. Dries Van Gestel, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at :03:26
  • 47. Andrea Pasqualon, (ITA) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :03:26
  • 48. Benoit Cosnefroy, (FRA) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :03:26
  • 49. Marcus Burghardt, (GER) BORA – HANSGROHE, at :03:26
  • 50. Diego Ulissi, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :03:26
  • 51. Thomas Sprengers, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at :03:26
  • 52. Guillaume Boivin, (CAN) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY, at :03:26
  • 53. Axel Domont, (FRA) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :03:26
  • 54. Silvan Dillier, (SUI) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :03:26
  • 55. Rúben Guerreiro, (POR) TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :03:26
  • 56. Simone Ponzi, (ITA) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI, at :03:26
  • 57. Marco Canola, (ITA) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI, at :03:26
  • 58. Lawrence Warbasse, (USA) AQUA BLUE SPORT, at :03:26
  • 59. Manuele Mori, (ITA) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :03:26
  • 60. Dion Smith, (NZL) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :03:26
  • 61. Benjamin King, (USA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :03:26
  • 62. Grega Bole, (SLO) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :03:26
  • 63. Valentin Madouas, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at :03:26
  • 64. Maurits Lammertink, (NED) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN, at :03:26
  • 65. Alex Howes, (USA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :03:26
  • 66. Jan Bakelants, (BEL) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :03:26
  • 67. José Rojas, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :03:26
  • 68. Andrey Grivko, (UKR) ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :03:26
  • 69. Ben Gastauer, (LUX) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :03:26
  • 70. Patrick Konrad, (AUT) BORA – HANSGROHE, at :03:26
  • 71. Marco Minnaard, (NED) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT, at :03:26
  • 72. Christopher Juul Jensen, (DEN) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :03:26
  • 73. Sonny Colbrelli, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA, at :03:26
  • 74. August Jensen, (NOR) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY, at :03:26
  • 75. Tom-Jelte Slagter, (NED) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :03:26
  • 76. Rigoberto Uran, (COL) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :03:26
  • 77. Pieter Serry, (BEL) QUICK – STEP FLOORS, at :03:26
  • 78. Simon Gerrans, (AUS) BMC RACING TEAM, at :03:26
  • 79. Aleksandr Riabushenko, (BLR) UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :03:26
  • 80. Michal Golas, (POL) TEAM SKY, at :03:26
  • 81. Edward Dunbar, (IRL) AQUA BLUE SPORT, at :03:26
  • 82. Tomasz Marczynski, (POL) LOTTO SOUDAL, at :03:26
  • 83. Benoit Vaugrenard, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ, at :03:26
  • 84. Carlos Verona, (ESP) MITCHELTON – SCOTT, at :03:26
  • 85. Pieter Weening, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ, at :03:26
  • 86. Paul Martens, (GER) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :03:26
  • 87. Simon Geschke, (GER) TEAM SUNWEB, at :03:26
  • 88. Carlos Betancur, (COL) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :03:26
  • 89. Winner Andrew Anacona, (COL) MOVISTAR TEAM, at :03:26
  • 90. Sep Vanmarcke, (BEL) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE, at :03:26
  • 91. Gregor MÜhlberger, (AUT) BORA – HANSGROHE, at :03:26
  • 92. Oliver Naesen, (BEL) AG2R LA MONDIALE, at :03:26
  • 93. Laurens Ten Dam, (NED) TEAM SUNWEB, at :03:26
  • 94. Bram Tankink, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :03:35
  • 95. Damiano Caruso, (ITA) BMC RACING TEAM, at :04:50
  • 96. Scott Davies, (GBR) TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :04:50
  • DNF Niki Terpstra, (NED) QUICK – STEP FLOORS
  • DNF Enric Mas Nicolau, (ESP) QUICK – STEP FLOORS
  • DNF Davide Martinelli, (ITA) QUICK – STEP FLOORS
  • DNF Michael Albasini, (SUI) MITCHELTON – SCOTT
  • DNF Luke Durbridge, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT
  • DNF Michael Hepburn, (AUS) MITCHELTON – SCOTT
  • DNF Wout Poels, (NED) TEAM SKY
  • DNF Tao Geoghegan Hart, (GBR) TEAM SKY
  • DNF Vasil Kiryienka, (BLR) TEAM SKY
  • DNF Lukasz Wisniowski, (POL) TEAM SKY
  • DNF Andrey Amador, (CRC) MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Imanol Erviti, (ESP) MOVISTAR TEAM
  • DNF Edward Theuns, (BEL) TEAM SUNWEB
  • DNF Johannes FrÖhlinger, (GER) TEAM SUNWEB
  • DNF Mike Teunissen, (NED) TEAM SUNWEB
  • DNF Søren Kragh Andersen, (DEN) TEAM SUNWEB
  • DNF Tiesj Benoot, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Marcel Sieberg, (GER) LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Tosh Van Der Sande, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Nikolas Maes, (BEL) LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Michael SchÄr, (SUI) BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Alberto Bettiol, (ITA) BMC RACING TEAM
  • DNF Danny Van Poppel, (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Maarten Wynants, (BEL) TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO
  • DNF Pascal Ackermann, (GER) BORA – HANSGROHE
  • DNF Jay Mc Carthy, (AUS) BORA – HANSGROHE
  • DNF Cesare Benedetti, (ITA) BORA – HANSGROHE
  • DNF Koen De Kort, (NED) TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Jasper Stuyven, (BEL) TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Michael Gogl, (AUT) TREK – SEGAFREDO
  • DNF Dario Cataldo, (ITA) ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Laurens De Vreese, (BEL) ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Oscar Gatto, (ITA) ASTANA PRO TEAM
  • DNF Nathan Haas, (AUS) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Steff Cras, (BEL) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Baptiste Planckaert, (BEL) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Jenthe Biermans, (BEL) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Willem Jakobus Smit, (RSA) TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN
  • DNF Ramon Sinkeldam, (NED) GROUPAMA – FDJ
  • DNF Romain Seigle, (FRA) GROUPAMA – FDJ
  • DNF Davide Cimolai, (ITA) GROUPAMA – FDJ
  • DNF Daniel Martin, (IRL) UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Rory Sutherland, (AUS) UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Matti Breschel, (DEN) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE
  • DNF Logan Owen, (USA) TEAM EF EDUCATION FIRST – DRAPAC P/B CANNONDALE
  • DNF Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier Werkilul, (ERI) TEAM DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Johann Van Zyl, (RSA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Jaco Venter, (RSA) TEAM DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Franco Pellizotti, (ITA) BAHRAIN – MERIDA
  • DNF Elmar Reinders, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Jeroen Meijers, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Floris Gerts, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Nick Van Der Lijke, (NED) ROOMPOT – NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Roy Goldstein, (ISR) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY
  • DNF Krists Neilands, (LAT) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY
  • DNF Benjamin Perry, (CAN) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY
  • DNF Tyler Williams, (USA) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY
  • DNF Mark Christian, (GBR) AQUA BLUE SPORT
  • DNF Aaron Gate, (NZL) AQUA BLUE SPORT
  • DNF Lasse Norman Hansen, (DEN) AQUA BLUE SPORT
  • DNF Calvin Watson, (AUS) AQUA BLUE SPORT
  • DNF Casper Phillip Pedersen, (DEN) AQUA BLUE SPORT
  • DNF Edward Planckaert, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Aaron Verwilst, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Kevin Deltombe, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Jordi Warlop, (BEL) SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE
  • DNF Simone Antonini, (ITA) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Mark Mcnally, (GBR) WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT
  • DNF Bryan Coquard, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Yoann Bagot, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Tanguy Turgis, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Justin Mottier, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Patrick MÜller, (SUI) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Kevin Reza, (FRA) VITAL CONCEPT CYCLING CLUB
  • DNF Damiano Cunego, (ITA) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI
  • DNF Marco Tizza, (ITA) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI
  • DNF Eduard Michael Grosu, (ROU) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI
  • DNF Marino Kobayashi, (JPN) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI
  • DNF Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle, (ESP) NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI

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