The Ardennes Classics are here, and as usual, Amstel Gold Race will lift the curtain. The 254.1km-long race starts from Maastricht, in the province of Limburg, and comes to a conclusion in Valkenburg, after taking the riders over a course which includes over 30 short and punchy climbs, narrow and twisty roads and shifting winds which could spice up the day and wreak havoc long before the race hits its climax.
Asgreen impresses at Amstel Gold Race debut
One week after a mechanical ruined his chances of a good result in Ronde van Vlaanderen, Kasper Asgreen produced a massive display at the first of the season’s three Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold Race. Riding it for the first time in his career, the 2021 De Ronde champion was unfazed by the interminable succession of leg-sapping hills making up the course of this 56th edition and fought bravely on his way to a well-deserved top 10 finish.
The race was properly ignited around 40 kilometers from the line, and the 27-year-old rode flawlessly as the peloton splintered just before the last of the day’s three Cauberg ascents, making the selection together with ten other riders, who didn’t need too much time to open a 30-second margin and deal a decisive blow to the chasers. On the mythical climb of the race, Asgreen hit the front of the group and pushed a steady pace that prevented any big attacks, and later closed down several accelerations, keeping it all together over the top of the Cauberg.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Dane remained a prominent figure even after two riders got away on a downhill section, churning out some huge power to reduce the gap before launching two blistering accelerations that forced the others to work hard in order to prevent the elastic from snapping. In the end, after doing most of the work there, Kasper still had something left to sprint from the group that came home 20 seconds behind winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers) and take sixth in Valkenburg for his third top 10 of the season in a World Tour one-day race.
“We would have liked to fight for the victory, but it was difficult. On the other hand, things went much better for us than last week, so that’s quite encouraging. I discovered a beautiful race and as things progressed, I was surprised by how I rode on the hills. I thought I would be struggling more on the climbs, but I managed them well and paced myself without going over the limit. Overall, it was a nice experience and I would like to return here one day and fight for the win”, said Asgreen after netting Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s ninth consecutive top 10 finish at Amstel Gold Race.
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