'Hills trio' off to difficult start
Valverde struggles at end of warm Dutch classic, as women’s team finishes 22nd with Mavi García after caught off-balance in early splits.
The Movistar Team was far from its best level at the Amstel Gold Race, first of three hilly spring classics in Limburg and Wallonia for the men’s and women’s squads managed by Eusebio Unzué. At the men’s race, a sensational Mathieu van der Poel (COC) took the day’s honours with a late recovery against attackers Julian Alaphilippe (DQT) and Jakob Fuglsang (AST), a videogame-like comeback he finished off into a group sprint in front of his home crowd.
At the Eyserbosweg, 37km before the end of the race, Alejandro Valverde -supported early in the race by Castrillo and Erviti, with Betancur and Verona covering him before the final hills- lost contact with the top favourites and was soon left out of race contention, the ‘Beer Classic’ still neglecting the Spaniard a victory after three podiums. “In the finale, I was completely empty – no legs, no energy,” was the World Champion’s summary just after the finish. “It was a really hot day, and my body didn’t react as I wanted to in that scenario. You’ve got to accept things as they come, look ahead and continue to give it your all, the only thing you can feel satisfied about after a race if it doesn’t come your way.”
At the women’s race, a strong 15-rider group also formed at the Eyserbosweg hill -in this case, 80km before the end- forced the Movistar Team to work hard, with Malgorzata Jasinska -on the attack later in the event-, Aude Biannic and Mavi García coming back to the main field just after the first of three Cauberg ascents (-54km). However, the strong pace and the heat left the Blues out of contention shortly afterwards. Another breathtaking finish saw Polish sensational Kasia Niewiadoma (CSR) taking the day’s honours, with García in 22nd place.
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto
- 01 Mathieu van der Poel Corendon - Circus 6h28'18"
- 02 Simon Clarke EF Education First "
- 03 Jakob Fuglsang Astana Pro Team "
- 65 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +4'19"
- 78 Carlos Barbero Movistar Team +7'53"
- 81 Andrey Amador Movistar Team "
- 107 Carlos Verona Movistar Team +15'41"
- — Carlos Betancur Movistar Team DNF
- — Imanol Erviti Movistar Team DNF
- — Jaime Castrillo Movistar Team DNF