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After a close call in the women’s race, it was even closer in the men’s edition at the Amstel Gold Race.
Both races marked a thrilling day of racing on a closed circuit in the hills of Limburg, with Vos and van Aert repeating their podium sweep from Gent-Wevelgem a few weeks ago.
Here’s what the day’s main protagonists said after Amstel Gold Race:
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) — winner
It’s almost a surprise that she’s never won one of the Netherlands’ most important one-day races. She backed up third in 2019 by kicking to the top spot Sunday. With her victory at Gent-Wevelgem, Vos is reconfirming she still has the strength and racing acumen to win out of select groups. She races across the Ardennes before taking a break ahead of the Giro Rosa.
“Since this ‘home race’ is on the calendar, winning the Amstel Gold Race has always been a big goal for me. I’ve already experienced great editions, but this is really cool,” she said. “It feels different without spectators, but you notice that people care about this race. I hope we have made the people at home happy. In any case, I enjoyed it, even though it was very hard.
“It was really a very open race, which I had expected beforehand. It was a continuous race from the start with a lot of different groups that were able to get away. In the final sprint I fortunately had some energy left to finish it off.”
— Richard Plugge (@RichardPlugge) April 18, 2021
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) — winner
Wout van Aert closes out his spring campaign with an exclamation point. The Belgian superstar delivered double victory for Jumbo-Visma, which also won the women’s race, and adds the prestigious Dutch classic to his growing palmarès. Van Aert’s haul this spring also includes Gent-Wevelgem, two stage wins and a second place at Tirreno-Adriatico, second at Brabantse Pijl and third at Milano-San Remo.
“I didn’t dare believe it. I sprinted the last few meters with my eyes closed. The jury only told me just before the podium ceremony that I had won. It was very difficult to say, that was clear from the time the jury needed to make it final. I have never experienced this before.
“I could always count on Jonas, Sam and Primož just before the final. They jumped well with almost all the attacks. It was a shame that Primož had a mechanical problem in the final. The team really rode for the win today. I am very proud of this victory and my performances in the classics. I have competed for this victory in almost every race and have always been in top shape. I am very happy to go into the holidays with this victory. The bike will be put aside for a while now.”
Demi Vollering (SD Worx) — second
After a hot start to 2021, SD Worx hasn’t won since Omloop van de Westhoek in mid-March. Vollering delivered her second consecutive second-place in a row, and seems poised for her first victory since 2019. She races next at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“No, I am not disappointed, my first place will probably come sometime. I am very happy now,” she said. “It’s no shame to lose to Marianne. It was a very tough race and glad to be on the podium after all. I felt really good at the beginning, but halfway race and after a lot of work I felt the fatigue set in. Fortunately, I got through it and was able to ride a good final.”
Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) — second
Another great result for the budding British superstar. After pipping van Aert at Brabantse Pijl, his Dutch rival got one back. Even more so than at the midweek classic, Pidcock confirmed at Amstel Gold he can hang with the strongest. Up next is Flèche Wallonne before a bit of a break after what’s been a spectacular pro debut.
“I should have started first because I was faster. That is a great learning moment. I gave Wout a small gap for the sprint, but we were too close to the finish. I was too far behind him and should have stayed in his wheel. I did ride a good race. I think I was the strongest in the race and I am happy with that feeling. But it’s frustrating that the difference is so small.”
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) — third
Like Vos, van Vleuten has never won Amstel Gold. She made it into the decisive move and ended up with third in what’s her second career podium at the Dutch classic.
“I’m happy, especially because I didn’t have the best day ever, I was a bit struggling today and I think it’s still a really nice result. Also really proud of how my team was riding today, this is something we can also celebrate today, an excellent place and we can go home with results … yeah, I’m super proud of my team.
“Some goosebumps riding together in the Cauberg, till the last climb with Leah Thomas. We are really getting to know each other and in every race, we’re getting better so it’s amazing. (About the final climb of the Cauberg): I went from the bottom and tried to make it a long climb, and there was the risk for them to come over me and they were a little bit more punchy.”
Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) — fourth
The Aussie was left hoping for more in what the team described as a “bittersweet” race. Matthews led home the bunch sprint behind the three leaders for another promising result in one-day racing so far in 2021. He rounds out his spring campaign with the closing races in the Ardennes.
“The race opened up a lot later than we thought. We thought it would be an aggressive race throughout, but with such a big breakaway group up the road there was no point opening it up too early,” he said. “They were playing games and with three Ineos in the front [and] it was hard to see which move was going to go, but then on the top of the second-to-last climb, the three of them got away. We all kept believing it would come back, a fair few teams missed it. It was up to us and a couple of other teams to try and bring it back, but we just fell short in the end.
“I gave it my best and I was fourth in the end and I think after crashing quite badly on Wednesday, this is not a bad result. I come here with a smile on my face every year and it is my dream to be on the top of the podium. I will continue to fight to try and get there and it will be even sweeter if I get there eventually.”