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The Moment The Amstel Gold Race Was Won

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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.

Let’s get the boring bit out of the way: this wasn’t the best race ever. For five hours the Amstel was formulaic, with a benign breakaway going away in the early kilometres. Some riders and teams missed the move and they were able to bridge across. The breakaway swelled to 11 non-threatening riders was never a danger and was kept at around seven minutes. You could easily go and do something else, like switch over to watch the women’s race where a lively finale saw move after move go, before Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) attacked the attackers on the Cauberg to ride away for the win ahead of home hopes van Vleuten and Vos.

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Returning to the men’s race and not a great deal was happening or at least the action wasn’t visible. Still the climbs and course were having their effects, riders were being worn down by the constant pattern of brake, accelerate, brake.

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Then things went up a gear with Mathieu van der Poel’s attack on the Gulperberg with 45km to go and the breakaway still up the road. Suddenly the race came alive but once the frenzy of the attack was over, everyone took stock. Van der Poel’s attack seemed premature in both senses, too early for the race and not wise enough either, he had Gorka Izagirre for company but that just meant Astana had placed a rider on his wheel and behind whole teams were still able to chase and van der Poel was using up some of his prodigious energy. Van der Poel got it and shut things down, sitting up and drinking in a way that signalled he was done.

The race could have calmed down but Deceuninck-Quickstep got to work and Dries Devenyns did a long pull which split the field and Julian Alaphilippe then took off solo with 36km and soon Jacob Fuglsang came across. Fuglsang’s having his best spring ever but this includes finishing second to Alaphilippe in the Strade Bianche, at the time it felt like an inevitable result given Alaphilippe’s explosive finish. If they could make it to the finish – and this wasn’t a certainty as they they had Michał Kwiatkowski and Matteo Trentin chasing at only a few seconds, often 15-20 seconds for the best part of 30km.

Behind in what was left of the peloton Deceuninck-Quickstep were in an usual position having run out of riders. Their modus operandi in the classics is to have strength in numbers but by now they were down to Philippe Gilbert and the Roubaix winner was trying his best but couldn’t contain all the counter moves from riders. Max Schachmann went clear and started to chase solo. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Simon Clarke (EF Education First) were in tandem behind him. Then Romain Bardet jumped away, presumably aiming for a top-10 he couldn’t get out of a bunch sprint. With seven kilometres to go, on the final climb of the Bemelerbeg, van der Poel slipped Gilbert along with two other impressive young riders, Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ) and Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto-Soudal) and Alessandro de Marchi (CCC) bridged across. By now the race was in pieces, remarkable for a race that’s got the tiniest of hills but they all add up and after 220km the field becomes very brittle.

Up ahead and Fuglsang didn’t want to sprint with Alaphilippe and launched two moves and if he couldn’t shake the Frenchman he was making him grimace but all along Kwiatkowski and Trentin were at around 20 seconds, then there was Schachmann chasing, the Clarke-Mollema tandem, Bardet alone, then van der Poel, Madouas, Lambrecht and De Marchi at 50 seconds and behind a peloton with Gilbert still trying to sit on moves. It meant a lot of riders contained into a 50 second window and with five kilometres to go van der Poel’s group collected Bardet, largely under the impulsion of van der Poel, roared on by home crowds as he hunched over his bike with shades of Tom Boonen in full flow. With 2.5km they caught Clarke and Mollema to swell further. Van der Poel was working but others were taking their turns and they were closing in.

With 1.5km to go Fuglsang and Alaphilippe were marking each other so nonchalantly they appeared to be looking around, peeking at the tidy flowerbeds amid the suburban finish and Fuglsang’s cadence dropped to a nonchalant 50-60rpm as they eased up. For Fuglsang this could be seen as a bluff, that he was prepared to lose in order to make Alaphilippe panic but in reality the pair both thought they had a more comfortable cushion after getting advice via their radios and from the race director making unconventional interventions from the lead car. But all the while the gap was closing in on them. Here’s a chart showing the evolution of Fuglsang and Alaphilippe’s lead in the final 2.5 kilometres:

The gap was closing and fast and Kwiatkowski had the two leaders within sight at the kilometre to go point and the van der Poel group was only a few seconds further behind. With van der Poel pulling hard the gap shrunk. Kwiatkowski surged past Alaphilippe and Fuglsang but van der Poel kept towing and with 300m to go opened up his sprint. Simon Clarke might have thought he was getting a leadout royale but this was van der Poel who days earlier had lead out the likes of Alaphilippe and Michael Matthews in the Brabantse Pijl and put time into them and there was no stopping the Dutch champion.

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  • The son shines 29 years later: Mathieu’s father Adri won the Amstel 29 years ago in a surprise finish too after two breakaway riders were caught on the line by van der Poel.

The Verdict
An overwinning by van der Poel, a thrilling finish after a great hour of racing. Alaphilippe and Fuglsang were clear but struggled to get more than 20 seconds’ lead which kept the suspense going. Yes it seems Fuglsang and Alaphilippe were too sure of their time gaps and were fed bad information but van der Poel’s impulsion in the final seven kilometres made all the difference and his efforts were rewarded, even as he towed the group into the sprint it looked like he’d pay for inexperience but nobody could come around him. With hindsight the Gulperberg move made sense, it cost van der Poel a bit of energy but meant got the race going earlier than usual with Deceuninck-Quickstep firing Alaphilippe up the road with 36km to go and turning the final 45 minutes of the race into a time trial for Alaphilippe, Fuglsang, Kwiatkowski and to a lesser extent Schachmann which blunted their efforts before van der Poel “only” had to engage in a 7km frantic chase.

As Liberation’s Pierre Carrey stated, it’s a confounding result bordering on the disrputive, a rider from a Pro Continental squad with no team mates in the final hour of the race demolishing entire World Tour teams. For all we might think Greg van Avermaet’s lacked team support this season or Peter Sagan needed more help in the past, van der Poel debunks it (although it’s probably more nuanced as having help often helps). Also not for him the habitual programmes and routines either, here’s a rider who’d only down eight races this season including the modest 2.2 Tour of Antalya and the Circuit de la Sarthe rather than banking a Tirreno-Adriatico or Paris-Nice, nor spending time on Mount Teide or doing the early season desert races. Instead he was doing cyclo-cross for most of the winter and will spent the rest of the season on his mountainbike with the MTB race in the Tokyo 2020 games as his big objective. He’s linked to his Correndon-Circus team until 2023 and can take his time, he’s already earning millions from the mix of cyclo-cross, road and MTB and has showed he doesn’t even need to move to a big squad where he might be ground down by the repetition, and the professional workplace vibe compared to the family outfit he’s with today where his parents play a big role in his career management.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • OldDAVE Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 12:49 pm

    Superb review as always… was looking forward to this one…

    Did the ‘it’s not the best race ever’ line come in reaction to Lance A’s podcast?
    I can’t help myself but listen to all highlights/opinion packages out there and even though what MvDP did seems incredible wasn’t sure it was the greatest ever!

    It does all seem pretty remarkable… MvDP group closing 20secs on Kwiato in 2.5km alone is a surprise… I was wondering how much did the downhill played a part? Or can we really account most of it to the attrition of a 35km TT and the front two getting the timings wrong?

    My only other thought – I watched ending twice, to see if other were pulling with MvDP, I only saw one shot in the final 7km with the others pulling through, which definitely suggested they were helping but I was wondering if there was alternate coverage with more than that solitary shot to show how much work MvDP did compared to the others?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 3:52 pm

      I think lots of people got swept up in the moment, it was a thrilling finish and should make most people’s top-5 picks of the season come October. I think things came together like a concertina in the end with Kwiatkowski coming back but behind him the chasers led by MvdP were going even faster.

  • MR TIM MITCHELL Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 12:50 pm

    I am 46. I joined a cycling club in 1987 and have followed pro cycling ever since. The best finish I can remember. Wow.

  • Anne van der spoel Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 1:29 pm

    Personally I don’t think it was a superhuman effort, just a matter of favorable circumstances (of which one was the long range attack from the 3 front guys, and the VdP group chasing single guys to aim for).

    Right after the finish I did the last loop from the Bemelerberg until the finish, and the wind on the Bemelerberg and then until turning left on top of the Cauberg was huge. No surprise a chasing group could ride 20% faster than Kwiat. And VdP seemed to measure his effort as he didn’t think he was riding for 1st, therefor the sprint was still there.
    Awesome ride though, and perfect timing in the sprint(s), huge huge fan.

    • TDog Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 3:46 pm

      If it wasn’t superhuman, it was one of the best human efforts I have seen in a long time. I agree with oldDave, no evidence of much help for MVdP in the last 5-7km. Closing a 50 second gap over that distance against some of the best World Tour riders, even if they are depleted, is extremely hard. And then he rode everybody off his wheel from the front after a 10 minute anaerobic effort and 270km. You are a tough audience. I cannot think of even a comparable performance in my 10 years of closely following pro cycling.

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 3:53 pm

        As suggested in the piece above, the leaders were tired from their 35km TT, MvdP had to make a shorter effort but still a big one. Best of all for him he seemed to be riding for the win and nothing else, he didn’t seem to be looking at his power meter or thinking of ranking points.

        • cp Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 6:03 pm

          Thumbs up to that final line. It sums up a lot of the thrill: he wanted to win and was willing to try like hell.

        • 3rdMoment Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 8:04 pm

          I haven’t been watching bike racing nearly as long as you, but I have to agree with TDog.

          From the video, MVdP was 48sec behind Kwiatkowski/Trentin at 6.5 K to go, so he made up time roughly 33% faster than the standard “minute per 10K” rule. But these were top riders, not random breakaway riders who have been out there over 100K, and one rider (MVdP) seemed to be doing most of the chasing himself.

          So even catching Kwiat was impressive. But to then so easily out-sprint all those top pros after doing all that work is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

      • Irungo txuletak Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 8:34 pm

        This was a brilliant ride from van der Poel, but we should also see that various factors were quite favourable:

        1: the effort he produced had much from a CX effort, very intense with some intervals. Unuseful to remind that he is specialist.
        2: It happens that the riders in front were cooked after a 35k effort. In particular, JA sprint did not look as strong as his usual finishes.
        3: The 2 in front slowed down a lot in the last ks. I guess JA feared an Fuglsang attack in the last false flat.
        4: The guys in the VdP group were not the quickest in a sprint. If he does the same last k with some Matthews, GvA, Gilbert or Valverde, I am not that sure he would have won the sprint. And the last 2 would probably have sat down for the whole chase.

        VdP effort was surely awesome and he got rewarded for his audacity -which is admirable-, it is not that i am willing to argue the opposite, but his win is also the result of a combination of factors he did not master all.

      • KevinR Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 11:05 pm

        Different setting, different circumstances but Chris Froome’s Colle delle Finestre stage win to snatch Giro victory has got to at least equal it.

      • randomeur Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 12:29 am

        “no evidence of much help for MVdP in the last 5-7km”
        the first shot we see of that group coming behind the lead trio. MvdP is nowhere near the front. It was Schachmann pulling them at that point. I’m sure others contributed as well during that stretch, though undoubtedly Mathieu looked to be the strongest and doing most of the work.

  • Digahole Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 3:28 pm

    Simon Clarke. Wheel of a lifetime.

  • Sam G Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 3:53 pm

    With the emergence of MvdP and WVA I wonder if more and more exclusively road riders will take up cyclocross in the winter. It would appear this is far better than any programme or mountain.

    With the only drawback being, you are less likely you will stay fresh form the GT season. It may make the classics even more specialised, with these riders not making it to the GT’s and using the summer as an off-season?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 4:03 pm

      It’s hard to know, it could be selection bias too where explosive, dynamic riders are attracted to off-road racing (Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Sagan have CX/MTB/BMX backgrounds) in a way that it might not work for, say, a Vanmarcke or a Démare… but it could too. It’ll be hard to change attitudes but may encourage some teams to let riders race more. Versatility is a useful thing, Cavendish used the track a lot and Viviani today does as well.

      • Jeff Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 5:10 pm

        Other points of comparison would be Lars Boom, Zdenek Stybar, and Sven Nys. The first too have made successful transitions to the road, while Sven Nys never made much of an impact on the road despite being one of the greatest cross’ers ever.

        Totally agree on the versatility point. Being an all-around bike racer is good for your handling ability, as well as for keeping a fresh perspective and keeping things “fun.” I’d note that Terpstra is a highly respected 6 day racer as well.

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 8:57 pm

          There’s also Fuglsang who made a great start in pro cycling after his time in XC MTB and then he’s got results since but has become more of a diesel.

      • Trisc64 Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 6:48 pm

        Not forgetting Geraint Thomas putting his track skills to work at the finish on Alpe d’Huez last year, going wide at the final corner and diving to the front.

      • KevinK Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:19 pm

        While the success of Van Der Poel and Van Aert may well encourage some road racers to give it a try, I suspect the main reason for their success is that they’re staggeringly talented CX riders. They’re not just two of the best, they have utterly and completely dominated cyclocross for years, to the extent that other riders usually can only hope for third place when those two are both entered. As mentioned by others, there are several recent CX-to-road conversions by very successful cross riders, and only one (Stybar) has had real success, and that only after some years of building up.

        We can’t generalize from anecdotal cases. Otherwise we might assume there are amazing bike racers wasting their time doing ski jumping and running.

        • Jeff Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:30 pm

          Is that a Primoz Roglic joke? 😉

          • Magicreme Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 8:51 pm

            As well as a Michael Woods one !

          • KevinK Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 8:50 am

            Yes and yes!

        • Patrick Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 11:47 pm

          both MvdP and WVA are yet to see anything like the success on the road that they have had in cross so who is to say yet that cross isn’t the best place for them. i think really they have both had such success in cross that they are looking for other challenges which is great. of course MvdP is primarily targetting olympic MTB which is a discipline where he has had relatively limited success.

          we could also look at cam worth who arguably wasted years as a road cyclist when he has since found more success as a triathlete (and started his sports career as a rower). most top athletes have potential to be successful in multiple sports, a lot of it comes down to exposure, opportunity and enthusiasm

      • Morten Reipppuert Saturday, 27 April 2019, 9:22 pm

        fuglsang is an ex mountain biker too, although he switched to road when he was still U23. He used to wipe the flor with Nino (in worlds XC, Cape Epic and even in mountainous u23 and junior road stage events)

  • Larry T Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 4:24 pm

    I think you nailed this one. The finish might end up in one of those compilations of “watch how these guys blew it” in addition to the highlights of MVdP’s career but otherwise it was far from the best race ever. I really though Kwiato was going to blow past the two joking around to win rather than MVdP’s group coming past, though there’s no doubt something special about the kid winning the same race as dad all these years later and in a similar fashion.
    I’ve been attacked about saying this kid doesn’t really radiate joy at winning (or racing) so I couldn’t help noticing your podium photo kind of illustrates this, no?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 4:40 pm

      I chose the photo for the beer but there’s plenty more of him smiling on the podium, even when collapsed on the ground after crossing the line

      • Larry T Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 10:05 am

        Understood, but it was YOU who chose the photo that sort of illustrated my claim. I read somewhere else this guy has been criticized in the past for giving up in ‘cross races when he thought he had no chance – but you can’t say that about him based on Sunday!

        • ShortsNL Friday, 26 April 2019, 1:57 pm

          Hi Larry,

          In 2014 when MvDP was still a junior, I went to the CX world championships in Hoogerheide. Back then he was already up against Wout Van Aert. Mathieu got into some trouble after WVA got a substantial lead. As I saw Mathieu pass for several laps I could clearly see he wasn’t trying anymore. It was only in the last two laps with the home crowd cheering for him when he got himself together to keep pushing.

          I think you are right in saying that he used to give up more easily but I believe he’s grown a lot since. Like you say last Sunday’s effort (as well as Flanders) illustrates that.

          As for him enjoying winning, he certainly does like CX and MTB more, but he alsohas developed his killer/winner mentality on the road.

          Yesterday Sporza posted a mini documentary on MVDP on Youtube. You might like it, watch with English subtitles:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgvwua3BJLc

          • JeroenK Friday, 26 April 2019, 10:28 pm

            ShortsNL, if Larry, despite lots of photographs clearly showing a very lean athlete @ 1.78m, still thinks Lance Armstrong was 75kg in his stage racing days, I doubt he will believe vdP’s smiles in that documentary are legit. It’s all a conspiracy by the media to make him believe Mathieu is somewhere near likeable! 😉

      • Larry T Saturday, 27 April 2019, 12:33 pm

        JeroenK – must have been the reverse kind of photos that folks here said made Kristoff look fat despite his weight being supposedly unchanged?
        I would never suspect a Sporza piece on MVdP would do anything other than make the guy look like a hero. That’s like expecting RAI TV to produce something making Nibali look bad.
        But yes, I have seen a photo or two of MVdP smiling, l but I’ll wait and see how many smiles there are atop podiums over the next few years. By then we’ll know if he’s the next Merckx or next DeWolf.

    • Mike B Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 5:34 pm

      There are a couple of great shots of him winning his first elite cyclocross race. Pure joy on his face.

    • ame ni mo makezu Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:29 pm

      MVDP is required to radiate joy at winning, but heaven forbid we (both fans of MVDP and of cycling in general) take joy in his performances!

      Mike B and others elsewhere have made the point–those of us who have followed this kid through CX are excited about his progress, and we have great reason to be. Especially with all the talk of not giving up MTB and cross, he and Wout have the potential to succeed across disciplines in a way we haven’s seen since the days of… his dad, if not before. If anything he’s a throwback! What–and I really want to know what–is not to love?

    • Martijn Thursday, 25 April 2019, 9:52 am

      He was completely ecstatic after winning. Just look at this photo: https://nos.nl/data/image/2019/04/21/545185/1008×567.jpg

  • KevinK Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 5:13 pm

    Both Amstel Gold races yesterday had thrilling finishes. I ended up watching much more of the women’s race than I normally would, since the men’s was (as you note) very dull, and got completely caught up in it. When Niewiadoma made her move on the last climb, it was already an exciting race with attacks and counterattacks, but her move was so impressive. Then the way she continued to ride, clearly pushing herself right to the limit, with Van Vleuten relentlessly bearing down like the Terminator. My favorite part was the way Niewiadoma never (!) looked back until the final meters, when she seemed to want to be sure she was safe to put her arms in the air over the line. I teared up when I saw her sprawled on the ground afterwards and she burst into tears of joy.

    After that I thought the men’s race was going to be a boring repetition of SB. Ha! So satisfying to see riders who dither around, playing games in the final kilometers, pay the price. Alaphilippe is my favorite DQS rider, but it was especially satisfying to see it happen to Lefevere’s gang. Maybe a little less arrogance going forward for the boys in blue?

    In the last column’s comment section there was a lot of hoo-ha about MvDP not being the next Merckx. Oddly, I’ve never seen that comparison made in the many articles I’ve read about van Der Poul, but I have heard many say that his is the most spectacular entry into the world tour racing scene since a young Sagan showed up. I think it’s a more apt comparison, and maybe it will jog Sagan to follow his own instincts more, which he doesn’t seem to have been doing this year.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Sagan has some lingering minor illness, but it could be that the change to his training and racing program is the culprit. When I read at the end of last year that he was going to change things up to target LBL, I wondered if taking that competitive/calculated approach, vs. Sagan’s usual “do what feels right” approach, would work for him. It appears that it isn’t, and perhaps he can look to MvDP as an inspiration to not listen to what others expect a great rider to do, and just ride the races he wants, in the way he wants.

    • Lanterne_Verte Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 6:45 pm

      Agree re Sagan’s programme this year, seems odd to be targeting LBL (even with new finish) when Bora have several riders better suited to it. If I was Sagan I’d be thinking about legacy, Rainbow#4, Maillot Vert #7, MSR and Maglia Ciclamino, maybe retiring at 32 into MTB, having fun and doing a bit of telly now and then. Thats just me speculating again though, lets hope he’s ok.

      • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:24 pm

        I got the impression that Sagan has lost quite a bit of weight, whether this is deliberate or as a consequence of illness I don’t know?

      • KevinK Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:28 pm

        I agree with what you say, with the slight distinction that I think Sagan’s personality might be better suited to NOT thinking about his legacy, but just doing what excites him. I think he’s let the expectations of others get into his head, along with criticism that he doesn’t win enough monuments or that he has too many second places, etc. I do think you’ve nailed some of the races that motivate him, of which the Giro is the one he hasn’t done and clearly wants to. And I agree that he’ll likely retire at the end of his Bora contract and go to MTB. I look forward to seeing him smiling on the bike again, whatever it takes.

        • Lanterne_Verte Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 10:53 pm

          Yes maybe you’re right, he certainly seems to have an on-off love for road racing and its history, he has talked quite cynically about it in a way that not many other champions do. Apparently he’s now doing Fleche tomorrow, I didnt see that coming

          • KevinK Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 8:48 am

            Yes, I’m also baffled by the decision to do Fleche. I can only assume he wants some hard miles leading up to LBL. It’s a head scratcher, but what do I know.

      • Scott Newman Saturday, 27 April 2019, 5:43 pm

        Remember, Sagan also went through a nasty divorce last year and has a young child. That kind of psychological stress has to affect his training and racing at some level.

      • Morten Reipppuert Saturday, 27 April 2019, 10:01 pm

        We have seen this Sagan beforend then he has cleaned up just about every stage in California and/or Swizerland + the expected green jersy nd perhaps the worlds.

        I wouldn’t count him out.

    • motormouth Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 9:30 pm

      it’s either illness, or Osmo will be looking for a new pre-hydration and race-hydration formula marketing schtick (“solid food for energy, liquids for hydration” err um, we mean, “beer is bread it’s good for you…”), and probably a new star rider haha.

    • Martijn Thursday, 25 April 2019, 10:08 am

      The usually well informed Michiel Wuytens and José De Cauwer of Sporza think Sagan lack of form is mainly a mental health problem, because of his divorce, but they also added the hypothesis that not quitting in the TdF after his severe fall to get the green jersey to Paris might have taken a physical toll.

      • Anonymous Thursday, 25 April 2019, 4:21 pm

        The “usually well informed” “think”…
        You are aware that these two things don’t go together very well, do you? Either they’re are well informed and *know* things, or they just guessing out of some gossip they might have heard or made up.

  • Col_Shivers Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 5:18 pm

    ‘Let’s get the boring bit out of the way: this wasn’t the best race ever.’

    C’mon INRNG, don’t take a natural break on Lance’s frites! 😁

  • Alastair S Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 5:35 pm

    I think the 50 second time gap you are using to the MvdP group is incorrect. The 50 seconds was always to the third group and I took this to mean Mollema & Clarke (& there was also Schachmann & Bardet in-between at various points) while the MvdP group was behind all these until the last 2 or 3 km or so. I had the MvdP group 20 seconds behind Mollema & Clarke at around 5 km to go.

    We can never be 100% sure which group the TV directors are referring to, nor can we be that confident in the reported gaps, but in this case I don’t think they were to far out – making MvdP’s achievement all the more impressive.

    ps I hope he sticks to his guns & prioritizes his Olympic MTB ambitions.

    • Patrick Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 11:53 pm

      yes, i suspect the confusion of numerous individuals/small groups was part of the issue, its often unclear even on tv who time gaps are based on so must be very hard to know whats going on in the heat of the battle.

      riders should know that these gaps are never that accurate and when you are told 20 seconds all that means is not much to play with.

      i think the biggest thing though was that JA was cramping so had little to give but fuglsang was overly wary of being outsprinted by JA again so wasn’t willing to pull. in the end fuglsang did well in the sprint so maybe should have backed himself more for a 2-up sprint

      • Ben E Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 12:15 pm

        The time gaps are generally based on gps trackers carried by the tv motorbikes. Gaps are therefore invariably underreported when the chasers are being followed by the filming bike but the break preceded by their filming bike, which is part of what happened on Sunday. The camera bike was generally alongside JA and JF during the finale, but the bike for Group 3 was generally trailing the MVDP, Simon Clarke, Romain Bardet group in order to fit the group into the shot (and not tow them)

  • jim Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 6:45 pm

    Is he or isn’t he Poulidor’s grandson?

    • Lanterne_Verte Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:00 pm

      yes, Poulidor is his maternal grandfather

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:17 pm

        Yes, confirmed. Poulidor did a radio interview after the race and suggested the early attack was a race but said his grandson made him proud and is “a monster”. Today there’s a good interview with Poulidor in his local newspaper https://www.lepopulaire.fr/limoges-87000/sports/raymond-poulidor-evoque-son-petit-fils-mathieu-van-der-poel-apres-sa-victoire-a-l-amstel-gold-race-il-est-terrible-extraordinaire_13545816/ which adds to the point about nobody giving MvdP advice on how to race, his father has given up. Also he knows that at 74-75kg he’s too heavy for stage races in the high mountains.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 10:12 am

          “Also he knows that at 74-75kg he’s too heavy for stage races in the high mountains.” That’s an interesting claim as wasn’t that BigTex’ racing weight? I remember a bunch of controversy over claims his cancer had caused him to lose weight vs his racing weight before the treatments as a reason for his stunning debut as GT contender – but those were debunked with claims that 75 kg was his weight before and after.
          Of course we now know Tex had some extra help getting those 75 kgs over the climbs, but Big Tom Dumoulin’s gotta be close to that weight and he certainly does OK these days.

          • Davesta Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 11:22 am

            Dumoulin is reportedly around 70kg (I think I’ve seen 69kg reported somewhere as his GT weight – possibly when he beat Froome on Cumbre del Sol and it turned out they were the same weight!)…he certainly looks big – especially compared to the small 60kg climbers – with his broad shoulders.
            Jungels is a similar weight, and both are certainly big for GT contenders. But it does suggest that MvdP may be on the heavy side…

          • JeroenK Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 4:03 pm

            Lance’s race weight was 68-70 kg.

          • Larry T Thursday, 25 April 2019, 11:18 am

            JeroenK – source please.
            I remember claims like this by Coyle that were later said to be false. 75 kg sticks in my mind as the before/after cancer treatment racing weight though I can’t find online a source for it.

          • JeroenK Thursday, 25 April 2019, 1:08 pm

            @Larry T, not an online source, but Chris Carmichael’s (his former coach) training literature.
            His physique looks totally different as a one day racer (rather bulky) compared to the post-cancer stage racer. The 75kg number is more likely for pre-ilness Lance. There is no accurate source for his height, but 1:80m (5’11”) is the maximum number. If he would have weighed 75kg from 1999 on, he’d have looked like Jan Ullrich coming out of his beer-lifting winter training. He does not: TdF physical checkup photo’s show he was as lean as he could be.

          • Larry T Thursday, 25 April 2019, 3:52 pm

            Sorry, but since that fellow was part of the Tex mafia I can’t accept anything he says as the truth. Plenty have made reference to him as merely a front man for Tex’ training while Michele Ferrari was really running the show. Finally, there’s the still-secret legal settlement the fellow made with the junior US riders he doped with USA Cycling. The guy has zero credibility IMHO. ZERO.

  • stony Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:41 pm

    if inaccurate radio transmissions were a contributing factor, is there an argument to be made for how many more exciting finishes we might get if radios were taken out of the equation?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 7:49 pm

      There is but you can argue the other way as well, that info from the radios was wrong and therefore added to the fog of war which made things more lively. There are good races with radios and good races without and the only study into it suggested that without radios the peloton would keep breakaways closer as they’re harder to manage, ie more conservative racing (http://inrng.com/2011/03/race-radios-and-the-tour-de-france-data-from-365-stages/).

      • lucian Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 9:39 pm

        ” but in reality the pair both thought they had a more comfortable cushion after getting advice via their radios and from the race director making unconventional interventions from the lead car.” hmmm, could we expand on those interventions? or do we just have too little info?

        • Sean Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 11:45 pm

          Fuglsang said they were given the wrong gaps but I’m sceptical. All the commentators were shocked even though they had the right gaps and could even see the chasers.

          The combination of a fully committed chase and leaders not cooperating seems like a sufficient explanation to me. It’s not the race directors job to tell the leaders that the chasers are going 20kph faster.

  • E. Amaro Tuesday, 23 April 2019, 8:36 pm

    I’d love to see the Power / Strava numbers for those last 10kms.

  • Waynelll Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 3:48 am

    Great recap. Stunning finish. Screaming at my tv in disbelief.

    For all those unimpressed with the race and win, please offer up some better races than this one I should check out. Keep your suggestions to the cobbles / Ardennes in the last 10 years. Only two that come to mind would be the Fabian last Flanders win with that 4 up sprint which for some reason I really liked ( admitted Fabian fan ) and that Luca Paulini win in that nasty weather at I can’t remember the race. I still think this Amstel win was more exciting than those.

    Huge inrng fan, thanks for all you do. You write so well a recap of taking a shit would be interesting. Cheers.

    • Davesta Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 11:29 am

      The Paulini win was at Gent-Wevelgem in 2015.

      I was very impressed with this race & win, but some of the recent editions of Flanders & Roubaix spring to mind as better *overall* races, with hours of action (2016 Roubaix especially)…

    • Sean Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 1:57 pm

      This race is hard to beat in my mind, but maybe:
      Flanders and Roubaix 2011.
      Also Roubaix 2013 and 2016.
      And the world champs where Rui Costa won. IIRC 2013.

      That Paolini win in GW was also pretty special if you think the riders should battle the elements and not just each other. KBK 2010? was so cold hardly anyone finished.

  • Ben E Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 9:54 am

    MVDP is good but The break of two spent the last 8k glass-cranking each other, a solo Kwiatkowski was closing them down fast. Alaphilippe seems to regularly claim to be knackered in a break, but still be bouncing around on the wheel and more than ready to win the sprint… and Fuglsang will have since seen on the replay how fresh JA was on the wheel in Strade Bianche whilst he was telling JF he was pooped… JA may be prodigious, but he needs to start pulling in breaks proportionate to his win rates or this will happen again and again. Reminded me of Argentin winning Liege.. fab race.

    • Armchair DS Friday, 26 April 2019, 1:43 pm

      1987 LBL was a great finish. I didn’t think it could still happen with earpieces today.

  • Tourversie Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 11:51 am

    One minor point that I noticed that hasn’t made much of an impression in any of the comments was that the moment the catch was made and MVDP momentarily looked to latch on to JF’s wheel. A merest hint of a let off. All his ‘towees’ clocking this, bar Si Clarke, spread out in anticipation of jostling for position. Intentional or instinctive it played a brilliant role in the denouement and certainly made the drama even more compelling. At the time, probably like most, I was anticipating a bit of silly buggers after the catch.

    • Tourversie Wednesday, 24 April 2019, 1:24 pm

      Or it could just be they lost the wheel….

  • Armchair DS Friday, 26 April 2019, 1:32 pm

    At 2.2K the leaders slowed all the way until 200m to go then woke up too late.
    Why wasnt JF and JA’s DS’s yelling in their ears in the last 1.5K to go FASTER?
    Then JF and JA slowed when MK slowed in the sprint.
    They didn’t want to win, they wanted not to lose.
    MVP wanted to win.