Near yet another podium finish in Limburg
Marvel from Murcia well supported by Landa and Movistar team-mates: shows enormous strength with attacks at two final hills; looks forward to Flèche (Wednesday) and Liège (next Sunday).
Danish allrounder Michael Valgren (AST) took yet another prestigious victory this season on Sunday’s 2018 Amstel Gold Race (UCI WorldTour, 262km), as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) showed more courage than ever in the Dutch event yet left the opening race of the ‘hills trilogy’ just off the podium in 5th spot (+19″).
Well supported from the start by the Blue squad, ‘Bala’ did not have to take on any responsibilities before the climbs of Kruisberg and Eyserbosweg, less than 40km before the end. The work Rojas, Anacona, Betancur, Amador and a very committed Imanol Erviti kept the Spaniard calm and relentlessly reduced the gaps against the early breakaway, which built a massive, 16-minute gap and was only brought down by the race contenders. In turn, Mikel Landa did a fine work for his team leader and controlled several moves at the front as he picked up the pace to make things harder for the sprinters.
Valverde followed all moves from the race favourites until the final Cauberg ascent, and then launched two tremendous accelerations at the Geulhemmerberg (-13km) and the Bemelerberg (-6km). Alejandro got really close to go solo, yet ended up caught by a group from which all three podium finishers jumped away at the twisty finale: Valgren, Roman Kreuziger (MTS, 2nd) and Enrico Gasparotto (TBM, 3rd).
Alejandro finished behind Peter Sagan (BOH, 4th) at the pursuit group’s sprint, after reasserting again his excellent condition before the spring’s two races he loves most: the Ardennes classics, with the Flèche Wallonne (Wednesday 18th, five wins) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Sunday 22nd, four triumphs) as next goals.
Picture (c): Dion Kerckhoffs + Nico Vereecken / BettiniPhoto.net
- 01 Michael Valgren Astana Pro Team 6h40'07"
- 02 Roman Kreuziger Mitchelton-Scott m.t.
- 03 Enrico Gasparotto Bahrain-Merida +2"
- 05 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +19"
- 36 Mikel Landa Movistar Team +2'11"
- 67 José Joaquín Rojas Movistar Team +3'26"
- 88 Carlos Betancur Movistar Team m.t.
- 89 Winner Anacona Movistar Team m.t.
- — Andrey Amador Movistar Team DNF
- — Imanol Erviti Movistar Team DNF