Van Aert and Pidcock had gone away with Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) with 12 kilometers to go after a flurry of moves from Ineos Grenadiers up and over the Cauberg climb.
The trio went into the final 300 meters locked together as the peloton breathed down their necks.
Van Aert led out the sprint from the front of the group at 150m remaining, with Pidcock coming off his wheel at around 80m to go in what made for a carbon-copy of Brabantse Pijl earlier in the week.
Rather than Pidcock bossing the sprint as he did Wednesday, he and van Aert crossed the line dead-level to hand the debating to the commissaries, much as the women’s Brabantse Pijl had come down to a jury decision. After some 10 minutes of debate, officials handed the win to van Aert, marking his second major classics victory of the year after Gent-Wevelgem.
“They said I won but I don’t actually believe it,” van Aert said after the race. “Just two minutes ago the jury came to tell me I won, so yeh [laughs].”
“A long sprint is normally in my favor,” he continued. “I had maybe the worst position to start the sprint so I thought it better to launch early, and apparently it was just enough.”
Pidcock was visibly frustrated as he waited for the jury to make its verdict, and was disconsolate on being handed second-place.
“I went too late. I should have gone first, I think I was the fastest,” he said. “I think I was the strongest of the race. It’s a bit frustrating by losing with such a margin. But it’s still second so I’m still happy.”
Van Aert’s win made it a clean sweep for Jumbo-Visma at Amstel Gold Race after Marianne Vos won the women’s race earlier in the day – much as the twosome won the men’s and women’s Gent-Wevelgem last month.
— Race Radio (@TheRaceRadio) April 18, 2021
Cross is boss. But who won? 😃 pic.twitter.com/E8Is0loIiz
— Cyclocross24.com (@cyclocross24) April 18, 2021
Primož Roglič had worked as superdomestique for van Aert through the opening 200km of the race, playing a key role in marking the moves for his Belgian teammate. The Slovenian suffered a mechanical at the very worst moment, forcing him to pull to the side of the road just as the key attacks started on the final ascent of the Cauberg at 18km to go.
“Primož had a little mechanical in the final so I was alone in the front group,” van Aert said. “That wasn’t ideal with a lot of Ineos guys, but from the point it was the three of us I knew I had a good chance. I won some nice races [this spring] and was always there in every race.
“I’m proud of this, and it was 30 years today since our director Frans Maassen won the Gold Race. All year he’d been saying this was the most important race of the year, so I’m happy to give him this victory.”
Race heats up at 70km to go after snoozy start
The race saw a frantic final few hours as the circuit-race format adopted for 2021 invited an open and aggressive dynamic.
After the early break of 10 had enjoyed a slow start to the race, attacks started out of the peloton at around 70km to go and it was full-gas from there to the finish.
Ineos Grenadiers, BikeExchange, Bahrain-Victorious and Qhubeka Assos were all active with separate moves, with Roglič and Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard and Sam Oomen always present marking the threats.
A dangerous group of six detached itself on a narrow lane at 43km to go after Dylan van Baarle squeezed the pace as Jumbo-Visma found many of its riders out of position on the tight farm road. After Roglič and Co. had been so active monitoring the attacks all race, the Dutch squad pulled the escape group and the remnants of the early breakaway back into the peloton with two full laps of the 17-km circuit remaining.
Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) made a solo attack through the penultimate lap only to see the red hot pace behind end his escape on the Cauberg at 18km to go as Ineos Grenadiers prepared to open up the race.
Ineos Grenadiers makes its move on the Cauberg
Ineos Grenadiers played its card on the final climb of the Cauberg with 18km to go.
Pidcock and Richard Carapaz attacked along with van Aert and Schachmann at the base of the iconic climb before Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) and then Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) bridged across in the following kilometers.
With Ineos packing three riders in the front group, Kwiatkowski punched away solo at 13km to go as riders dashed across from the peloton.
Shortly after Kwiatkowski was caught, Pidock punched away with van Aert and Schachmann in his wheel to set up the tense final as the chase failed to coordinate its effort.
Amstel Gold Race Results
|1||VAN AERT Wout||Team Jumbo-Visma||5:03:29|
|2||PIDCOCK Thomas||INEOS Grenadiers||0:00|
|3||SCHACHMANN Maximilian||BORA - hansgrohe||0:00|
|4||MATTHEWS Michael||Team BikeExchange||0:03|
|5||VALVERDE Alejandro||Movistar Team||0:03|
|6||ALAPHILIPPE Julian||Deceuninck - Quick Step||0:03|
|8||KWIATKOWSKI Michał||INEOS Grenadiers||0:03|
|9||MOHORIČ Matej||Bahrain - Victorious||0:03|
|10||VAN DER SANDE Tosh||Lotto Soudal||0:03|
|11||ARANBURU Alex||Astana - Premier Tech||0:03|
|12||TRENTIN Matteo||UAE-Team Emirates||0:03|
|13||VALGREN Michael||EF Education - Nippo||0:03|
|14||KONRAD Patrick||BORA - hansgrohe||0:03|
|15||BENOOT Tiesj||Team DSM||0:03|
|16||MARTIN Guillaume||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||0:03|
|18||PARET-PEINTRE Aurélien||AG2R Citroën Team||0:03|
|19||HOELGAARD Markus||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:03|
|20||HERMANS Quinten||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||0:03|
|21||IMPEY Daryl||Israel Start-Up Nation||0:03|
|22||VENTURINI Clément||AG2R Citroën Team||0:03|
|23||MOLARD Rudy||Groupama - FDJ||0:03|
|24||HIGUITA Sergio||EF Education - Nippo||0:03|
|25||BARGUIL Warren||Team Arkéa Samsic||0:03|
|26||VAN AVERMAET Greg||AG2R Citroën Team||0:03|
|27||MADOUAS Valentin||Groupama - FDJ||0:03|
|28||CARAPAZ Richard||INEOS Grenadiers||0:03|
|29||WELLENS Tim||Lotto Soudal||0:03|
|30||HENAO Sergio||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||0:03|
|31||LUTSENKO Alexey||Astana - Premier Tech||0:03|
|32||WOODS Michael||Israel Start-Up Nation||0:03|
|33||TEUNS Dylan||Bahrain - Victorious||0:03|
|34||GAUDU David||Groupama - FDJ||0:03|
|35||HIRSCHI Marc||UAE-Team Emirates||0:03|
|36||NEILANDS Krists||Israel Start-Up Nation||0:08|
|37||KELDERMAN Wilco||BORA - hansgrohe||0:09|
|38||FUGLSANG Jakob||Astana - Premier Tech||0:10|
|39||CORT Magnus||EF Education - Nippo||2:12|
|40||THEUNS Edward||Trek - Segafredo||2:12|
|41||OLDANI Stefano||Lotto Soudal||2:12|
|42||GESCHKE Simon||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||2:12|
|43||BARCELÓ Fernando||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||2:12|
|44||ROTA Lorenzo||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||2:12|
|45||GODON Dorian||AG2R Citroën Team||2:12|
|46||WIRTGEN Luc||Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB||2:12|
|47||TRATNIK Jan||Bahrain - Victorious||2:12|
|48||DE TIER Floris||Alpecin-Fenix||2:12|
|49||SMITH Dion||Team BikeExchange||2:12|
|50||STRAKHOV Dmitry||Gazprom - RusVelo||2:12|
|51||GOGL Michael||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||2:12|
|52||POLANC Jan||UAE-Team Emirates||2:12|
|53||CONCI Nicola||Trek - Segafredo||2:12|
|54||COSTA Rui||UAE-Team Emirates||2:12|
|55||CLARKE Simon||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||2:12|
|56||SCHELLING Ide||BORA - hansgrohe||2:12|
|57||FRAILE Omar||Astana - Premier Tech||2:12|
|58||POELS Wout||Bahrain - Victorious||2:12|
|59||CARR Simon||EF Education - Nippo||2:12|
|60||VERONA Carlos||Movistar Team||2:12|
|61||PEREZ Anthony||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||2:12|
|62||VAN BAARLE Dylan||INEOS Grenadiers||2:12|
|63||BAKELANTS Jan||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||2:12|
|64||MOLLEMA Bauke||Trek - Segafredo||2:17|
|65||CHAVES Esteban||Team BikeExchange||2:19|
|67||VANSEVENANT Mauri||Deceuninck - Quick Step||2:29|
|68||ABRAHAMSEN Jonas||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||3:44|
|69||ROGLIČ Primož||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:44|
|70||CAVAGNA Rémi||Deceuninck - Quick Step||3:44|
|71||GIBBONS Ryan||UAE-Team Emirates||3:44|
|72||COLBRELLI Sonny||Bahrain - Victorious||3:44|
|73||VERMAERKE Kevin||Team DSM||3:44|
|74||DEWULF Stan||AG2R Citroën Team||3:44|
|75||SERRY Pieter||Deceuninck - Quick Step||3:44|
|76||PICHON Laurent||Team Arkéa Samsic||3:44|
|77||SKAARSETH Anders||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||3:44|
|78||BERNARD Julien||Trek - Segafredo||3:44|
|79||BJERG Mikkel||UAE-Team Emirates||4:59|
|80||APERS Ruben||Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise||6:17|
|81||KREUZIGER Roman||Gazprom - RusVelo||6:17|
|82||BAUER Jack||Team BikeExchange||6:17|
|83||SCHÄR Michael||AG2R Citroën Team||6:17|
|84||BURGHARDT Marcus||BORA - hansgrohe||6:17|
|85||LADAGNOUS Matthieu||Groupama - FDJ||6:17|
|86||SKUJIŅŠ Toms||Trek - Segafredo||6:17|
|87||HOWES Alex||EF Education - Nippo||6:17|
|88||HVIDEBERG Jonas Iversby||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||6:17|
|89||LINDEMAN Bert-Jan||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||6:17|
|90||CHERNETSKI Sergei||Gazprom - RusVelo||6:17|
|91||OOMEN Sam||Team Jumbo-Visma||6:17|
|92||STANNARD Robert||Team BikeExchange||6:17|
|93||GESINK Robert||Team Jumbo-Visma||6:17|
|94||TUSVELD Martijn||Team DSM||6:17|
|95||SERRANO Gonzalo||Movistar Team||6:17|
|96||SPRENGERS Thomas||Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise||6:17|
|97||MEZGEC Luka||Team BikeExchange||6:17|
|98||WARLOP Jordi||Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise||6:17|
|100||VAN POUCKE Aaron||Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise||6:17|
|102||WÆRSTED Syver||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||6:17|
|103||SWIFT Connor||Team Arkéa Samsic||6:17|
|104||VLIEGEN Loïc||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||6:17|
|105||GRIGNARD Sébastien||Lotto Soudal||6:17|
|106||WIRTGEN Tom||Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB||6:17|
|107||OWSIAN Łukasz||Team Arkéa Samsic||6:17|
|108||GOŁAŚ Michał||INEOS Grenadiers||6:17|
|109||DUNBAR Eddie||INEOS Grenadiers||6:17|
|110||HOFSTETTER Hugo||Israel Start-Up Nation||6:17|
|111||SÉNÉCHAL Florian||Deceuninck - Quick Step||6:17|
|112||CATTANEO Mattia||Deceuninck - Quick Step||6:17|
|113||MOLLY Kenny||Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB||6:17|
|114||LAMMERTINK Maurits||Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux||6:17|
|115||VINGEGAARD Jonas||Team Jumbo-Visma||6:17|
|116||DONOVAN Mark||Team DSM||6:17|
|117||WILLIAMS Stephen||Bahrain - Victorious||6:17|
|118||HERREGODTS Rune||Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise||14:24|
|119||BENEDETTI Cesare||BORA - hansgrohe||14:24|
|120||URIANSTAD Martin||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||14:24|
|121||JUUL-JENSEN Christopher||Team BikeExchange||14:24|
|122||POWER Robert||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||14:24|
|123||VELASCO Simone||Gazprom - RusVelo||14:24|
|124||GAMPER Patrick||BORA - hansgrohe||14:24|
|125||ROVNY Ivan||Gazprom - RusVelo||14:24|
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.