A midweek race with a famous finish, it’s a bunch sprint for climbers.
A thrilling finish saw time and space shrink like a concertina, one moment Julian Alaphilippe and Jacob Fuglsang were going to spring for the race, then Michał Kwiatkowski caught them in the final kilometre and seconds later they were all swamped by a chase group led by Mathieu van der Poel who kept going to win the sprint.
Beer, sunshine and big crowds for a bike race. The Amstel Gold Race a good formula even if it’s the young upstart of the spring classics in relative terms, having only begun in 1966. It marks the change from the flat classics to the hillier races and there’s a broad field with grand tour contenders tuning up for summer and cobbled classics specialists having a last hurrah. Here’s a race preview with the usual look at the course, contenders, TV times and more.
With the cobbles done and dusted for another year, a quick retrospective on some of the new names who emerged during the season.
Philippe Gilbert beats Nils Politt in the sprint in the Roubaix velodrome. He seemed the fresher for the sprint, but in a race packed with action and drama nothing could be taken for granted until the final metres when it was clear he was ahead and able to sit up for the victory salute.
Full stop, period, point. The cobbled classics season lasts for weeks and every time there’s always the consolation of the next race, if the E3 didn’t work out there’s Gent-Wevelgem and then the Ronde and each race can be used for training, a stepping stone to the next. This time there’s nothing more, reach Roubaix and the game of stones is done for 2019.
It looks like another dry Paris-Roubaix. It hasn’t rained in the race since 2002. Northern France is a wet place – riders from the region often move south in search of better training conditions – but as explored in a previous post here, early April is actually the driest period of the year for the area. Even the forecast for wind earlier this week looks to have faded away.
Pierre Tosi died on 1 April, aged 69. A modest rider, his very lack of achievement as a professional cyclist was the inspiration for the film Le Vélo de Ghislain Lambert.
Alberto Bettiol surges out of the lead group on the Oude Kwaremont just as the breakaway pair of Dylan van Baarle and Kasper Asgreen are about to be a caught. Behind the group is a constellation of star names but none of them can shape events from this point on and Bettiol quickly takes a 20 second lead which he’d keep until he sat up to celebrate.
It’s Deceuninck-Quickstep versus the rest again this Sunday as the home team take on all comers, including Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Wout van Aert and Oliver Naesen. It’s live on TV from start to finish and takes plance in front of an estimated million of roadside fans, an event of national importance to the Belgians.