Just a few days after Tom Pidcock beat Wout Van Aert at De Brabantse Pijl, the Belgian got revenge on the Brit at Amstel Gold Race, pipping the Ineos Grenadier to become the first Jumbo-Visma rider to win in 20 years, when Erik Dekker took the victory for Rabobank. With Marianne Vos earning the women’s title, Jumbo-Visma swept the races. There was no Amstel Gold Race last year in the COVID-19-affected season and reigning champ Mathieu van der Poel did not defend his 2019 title.
There would be no meanders around the Limburg region this year. The men faced 13 laps of a 17-km circuit in Valkenburg, most containing the Geulhemmerberg (1.4 km of 4.6 percent), the Bemelerberg (900 metres of 5.2 percent and the Cauberg (800 metres of 7.5 percent. However, the Cauberg wouldn’t be in the final lap, and the last Bemelerberg peaked 6 km from the finish line.
This year’s @amstelgoldrace will take place on local laps, with the start and finishing this year being in the municipality of Valkenburg aan de Geul.
📍 Valkenburg ➡️ Berg en Terblijt
🚩 Start 12:05
🏁 Finish ca. 17:36
🛣 216.7km pic.twitter.com/m6kzBneRel
— BORA – hansgrohe (@BORAhansgrohe) April 18, 2021
A ten-man move scampered away on the first lap and faced several sets of climbing triplets, with first Jumbo-Visma and then Movistar pulling in the peloton 5:00 in arrears.
Pushing the pace in the break 👌🏻
After 60km of racing @ChadHaga and his breakaway companions lead the peloton by 4’50”.#AGR21 pic.twitter.com/G8f6vDm27I
— Team DSM (@TeamDSM) April 18, 2021
There were several accelerations in the peloton on the middle laps, including a dangerous one featuring Van Aert. The skirmishing brought the breakaway closer on Lap 13. Bahrain-Victorious’ Slovenians Jan Tratnik and Matej Mohorič were very active.
On the third from last climb of Geulhemmerberg a sextet tipped off the front of the peloton and lit out for the breakaway, catching it on the Cauberg. But Primož Roglič brought the peloton to them again. Only two riders from the original breakaway remained up front.
The penultimate lap was where the last escapees were dispatched, as Bora-Hansgrohe’s Ide Schelling attacked on Geulhemmerberg. Schelling carried on solo over the Bemelerberg.
The final ascent of the Cauberg was where Roglič suffered a mechanical just after Schelling was brought back.
Roglič’s teammate Van Aert pulled away with Pidcock and two other Ineos Grenadiers, Max Schachmann and Michael Matthews. On the last lap Michael Woods tried to bridge over with Alejandro Valverde. Valverde and Woods made it over with Julian Alaphilippe.
Van Aert, Pidcock and Schachmann broke loose on the final Geulhemmerberg. The trio’s gap began to grow on the way to Bemelerberg, even as the chase group ballooned.
After the Bemelerberg, Woods’ Israel Start-up Nation pulled the threesome a little closer. But with 3 km to go, the lead was still 15 seconds.
Schachmann wanted no part of a three-up sprint with his breakmates, so he tried in vain to surge clear. Pidcock led them under the red kite.
With 200 metres to go Van Aert opened the sprint and barely held off Pidcock on his right. Van Aert’s spring campaign is over. He took Amstel Gold, Gent-Wevelgem and two stages of Tirreno-Adriatico while coming second in the GC to Tadej Pogačar. He’ll now concentrate on the Tour de France where he’ll support Roglič.
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) wins the Amstel Gold Race… by 4/1000ths of a second pic.twitter.com/5mBZ2p40oU
— the Inner Ring (@inrng) April 18, 2021
Woods finished in 32nd place in a pack of 32 chasers three seconds back.
Ardennes Week continues on Wednesday with La Flèche Wallonne.
2021 Amstel Gold Race
1) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) 5:03:27
2) Tom Pidcock (Great Britain/Ineos Grenadiers) s.t.
3) Max Schachamnn (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) s.t.
32) Michael Woods (Canada/Israel Start-up Nation) +0:03