Mathieu van der Poel won the 54th edition of the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. De Brabander was the strongest in the sprint in a bizarre final and is the first Dutch winner since Erik Dekker in 2001.
The 24-year-old Van der Poel, who made his debut in the Limburg classic, was ahead of Australian Simon Clarke (second) and Deen Jakob Fuglsang (third) in the sprint. Julian Alaphilippe, who won Milan-San Remo last month, finished fourth.
Van der Poel is the thirteenth Dutch winner of the Amstel Gold Race. Previously Jan Raas (five times), Gerrie Knetemann (twice), Arie den Hartog, Harrie Stevens, Jacques Hanegraaf, Steven Rooks, Joop Zoetemelk, Jelle Nijdam, Adrie van der Poel, Frans Maassen, Michael Boogerd and Dekker (all one) times) with the win.
Adrie and Mathieu van der Poel are the first father and son to have won the Dutch classic. Adrie van der Poel was the strongest in Limburg in 1990.
For Van der Poel it is his first victory in a classic and his sixth victory of the season. Earlier this year, the Dutch champion won the Brabantse Pijl, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the GP of Denain and rides in the Tour of the Sarthe and the Tour of Antalya.
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Minnaard and Van der Lijke in early flight
The first hours of the Amstel Gold Race were colored by an escape from eleven riders, including Nick van der Lijke and Marco Minnaard. The two Dutchmen were accompanied by Michael Schär, Julien Bernard, Grega Bole, Marcel Meisen, Aaron Verwilst, Thomas Sprengers, Paolo Simion, Tom Van Asbroeck and Jérôme Baugnies.
The team got all the space they needed from the peloton and rode a maximum lead of almost eight minutes together. With about 90 kilometers to go, Simion had to release from the leading group through a cramp attack.
In the peloton, Astana then stepped up the pace a little, causing the refugee's lead to gradually decline. That difference was approximately two minutes at 60 kilometers from the finish. Not much later Minnaard and Verwilst dropped out of the leading group.
Mathieu van der Poel cannot believe victory in Amstel Gold Race. (Photo: Pro Shots)
Van der Poel goes into the attack early
On the Gulpenerberg, Van der Poel thought it was already time to attack. Gorka Izagirre was accompanied by the Dutch champion, but the duo were caught just like the early refugees a few kilometers later.
Alaphilippe then demarcated and he was joined by Fuglsang. Shortly thereafter, Michal Kwiatkowski, Matteo Trentin and Michael Woods went in pursuit, although the Canadian fell back into the peloton a little later.
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang soon had a 50-second lead on the peloton, from which Peter Sagan had to release. Kwiatkowski and Trentin rode twenty seconds away from the leading duo.
Mollema and Van der Poel go in pursuit
Several riders, including Bauke Mollema and Van der Poel, subsequently escaped from the peloton, but they too did not get any closer to the front runners.
Alaphilippe and Fuglsang seemed to fight it out for the win, but in the last 500 meters they were still caught by a chasing group with, among others, Van der Poel and Mollema.
Alaphilippe went far in the sprint, but the Frenchman was then passed by Van der Poel. The leader of Corendon-Circus held up well and thus ensured the eighteenth Dutch victory in the Amstel Gold Race.