Pogacar Wins Amstel Gold Race
Today’s Amstel Gold Race 2023 was contested on a 253.6-kilometer route from Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt in the Netherlands. The weather was surprisingly chilly at 11 degrees Celsius, and the route featured 33 short but intensive climbs dispersed across the route to prevent riders from finding a steady riding pace.
Last year’s edition of Amstel Gold Race was won by Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos-Grenadiers) after a fierce two-man sprint battle against Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroen).
The hostilities started early in Amstel Gold Race 2023. Shortly after the start attacks were initiated from left and right and eventually a group of breakaway hopefuls was formed. The group featured Mathias Vacek, Tobias Ludvigsson, Alessandro Fedeli, Martin Urianstad, Matteo Vercher, Leon Heinschke, and Ward Vanhoof.
The group built a maximum lead of almost five minutes, before it was eventually reeled in by the chasing peloton 113 kilometers from the finish line.
At the bottom of Cauberg, with 80 kilometers to go, UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar briefly showed his dominant strength and great form by accelerating and setting a crunching pace that left many riders behind. Tiesj Benoot was also active at the front for his Jumbo-Visma team and Jumbo-Visma shared the front of the peloton with Ineos-Grenadiers.
With 72 kilometers left of the race a new front group had been established featuring Pogacar, Thomas Pidcock and Magnus Sheffield (Ineos-Grenadiers), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost), Stan Van Tricht (Soudal-QuickStep), Lars van den Berg (Groupama-FDJ), Andreas Kron (Lotto-Dstny), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan Team), Alex Zingle (Cofidis Team), and Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ). The group had built a 47 second lead on the chasing peloton, but the lead was quickly reduced to 30 seconds with 67 kilometers left while the riders were struggling on the Bemelerberg climb.
Meanwhile, at the front of the peloton, the Bahrain-Victorious team had launched a fierce chase to reel in the attack group for their team captain Matej Mohoric who had delivered several top ten finishes so far this season but had yet to win a race. The Amstel Gold Race monument classic appeared a golden opportunity for Mohoric.
51.6-kilometers from the finish a crash occurred in a slippery curve involving several riders including Dorian Godon (AG2R-Citroen), Søren Kragh Andersen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Dries Devenyns (Soudal-QuickStep), and three EF Education-Easypost riders.
With 48 kilometers left to contest the Trek-Segafredo team took to the front to reduce the lead of the front group and increase the difficulty for the remaining riders in the peloton. On the Gulperberg, Bauke Mollema accelerated from the front in support of his teammate Mattias Skjelmose, who followed in third position.
40 kilometers from the finish the front group featuring Pogacar was still in the lead, but a smaller chase group had been established 23 seconds behind featuring Benoot, Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Mohoric, Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-Dstny), Andrea Bagioli (Soudal-QuickStep), and Alexander Kamp (Tudor Pro Cycling Team).
Pogacar then suffered a mechanical at the bottom of the Kruisberg, but he quickly received a new bike and rejoined the front group after refueling. Pogacar then attacked 36.6-kilometers from the finish and was joined by Pidcock and Healy, while Kron and Lutsenko chased further behind.
29 kilometers from the finish line Pogacar launched an attack and Healy was dropped first followed by Pidcock. Pogacar carried on solo while Healy and Pidcock established a chase duo.
With 18 kilometers to go, Pogacar initiated his second battle with the Cauberg climb in solo fashion, while Healy and Pidcock were approximately thirty seconds behind.
Five kilometers later Healy dropped Pidcock on a climb and continued solo in powerful fashion while reducing Pogacar’s advantage.
Entering the final five kilometers of Amstel Gold Race 2023, Pogaar had a 45 second lead on Healy, while Pidcock was chasing further behind, followed by Kron and Lutsenko.
Pogacar took his first Amstel Gold Race champion title by crossing the finish line solo in 06:01:02. Healy followed 38 seconds later and secured an important result for his EF Education-EasyPost team. Pidcock finished third, while Kron took fourth and Lutsenko fifth.
“It was unbelievable today. I did not expect to join a breakaway so early. I was doubting that I could reach the finish solo, but I squeezed all energy in my body to reach the end and take the victory,” race winner Pogacar told Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium.
“We didn’t have team support cars for a long time, but I managed to get a new bike in the final moment. I jumped to the front and my guys could relax in the peloton and stand by. Van der Poel had told me I should attack on the Kettelberg. I believe our team can do great things in Fleche Wallonne on Wednesday,” Pogacar added.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for additional coverage from the 2023 spring classics including La Fleche Wallonne 2023 and Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2023.