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AMSTEL’23: Pogačar Takes The Top Off The Beer

More history for Tadej Pogačar

Race Report: Tadej Pogačar was the top favourite before the start of the Amstel Gold Race and lived up to his No.1 billing. The Slovenian put in his final attack on the Keutenberg, 30 kilometres from the finish. He dropped Tom Pidcock and Ben Healy to solo to victory. Healy was second and Pidcock just held on for third.


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Amstel’23 map

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Amstel’23 profile

The biggest Dutch Classic passed through the hilly landscape of Limburg. The race was over narrow roads with 33 climbs. In the final the riders had the Eyserbosweg, Fromberg, Keutenberg, Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg, Bemelerberg and the finish line was on the Rijksweg.

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A wet start in Maastricht

The break of the day came early. Mathias Vacek (Trek-Segafredo), Leon Heinschke (DSM), Mattéo Vercher (TotalEnergies), Ward Vanhoof (Team Flanders-Baloise), Tobias Ludvigsson & Alessandro Fedeli (Q36.5 Pro Cycling) and Marin Urianstad (Uno-X) got together and built up a lead of 5 minutes. It wasn’t long before UAE Team Emirates, for top favourite Tadej Pogačar, started chasing and cut the lead to 2:30.

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Top favourite – Tadej Pogačar with Leo van Vliet, the Amstel race director

Vacek, Heinschke, Vercher, Vanhoof, Luvdigsson, Fedeli and Urianstad still had a lead when the started the Maasberg, Adsteeg, Korenweg and Nijswillerweg, the first main climbs of the day. Ninety kilometres from the finish, Alpecin-Deceuninck started the finalé. The Belgian team were without Mathieu van der Poel, but were not going to sit back and wait for Pogačar.

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The peloton on the climb of the Maasberg – The first climb of the day

Alpecin-Deceuninck sent Gianni Vermeersch ahead and the Belgian turned was the instigator of a very strong chasing group of 15 riders. Vermeersch was joined by top favourite Pogačar, Tom Pidcock, Magnus Sheffield, Tosh Van der Sande, Ben Healy, Lars van den Berg, Kevin Geniets, Quentin Pacher, Axel Zingle, Alexey Lutsenko, Christopher Juul-Jensen, Matteo Sobrero, Arjen Livyns and Andreas Kron. Bahrain Victorious had completely missed the move and had to chase.

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Leon Heinschke (DSM) leading the early break

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It wouldn’t be the Netherlands without a photo of a windmill

The 7 early escapees had already been caught and dropped. In the peloton it was up to Bahrain Victorious and Jumbo-Visma, who also had to chase after Van der Sande dropped out. The two WorldTeams managed to hold the difference, but the Pogačar group’s lead fluctuated around 30 seconds. The nervousness in the peloton led to crashes.

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TotalEnergie’s Matteo Vercher Matteo

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No chance of sunburn today

With 50 kilometres to go, there was a big crash in the peloton. With Valentin Madouas, Rémi Cavagna, Dorian Godon and Neilson Powless involved. The 10 remaining front riders raced on to the next climbs; the Gulperberg, Kruisberg and the tough Eyserbosweg. Just before the Kruisberg, Pogačar had to change bikes. The two-time Tour winner remained calm and was able to rejoin the front group in no time.

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One of the 33 climbs

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Tosh Van der Sande putting the pressure on

With Pogačar back in the first group, the climb of the Eyserbosweg was getting closer. On the steepest sections of this climb, the big favourite decided to make a move for the first time. As a result, the leading group completely exploded and only Pidcock was able to follow the Slovenian. It was clearly too fast for all the others, although Ben Healy managed to return after the Eyserbosweg. Lutsenko and Kron also tried to pull back the leader, but Pogačar, Pidcock and Healy were not going to be caught.

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Pogačar wanted to split the race on Cauberg with 90 kilometres still to go

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And split it did

On the particularly steep Keutenberg, with ramps above 20%, the race was put to the sword. Pogačar was clearly not finished yet and gave it another strong effort. Healy was the first rider to crack and then Pidcock lost hold just before the top. Pogačar was now solo with 28 kilometres to go – a long solo, but would it be too long?

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Through the finish

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Pogačar had Pidcock and Lutsenko with him

Pidcock and Healy were at 15 seconds, but on the flatter kilometres, Pogačar stretched his lead. The Slovenian started the Geulhemmerberg, the penultimate climb, with a lead of 30 seconds. On this climb the lights went out for Pidcock. The INEOS rider was unable to follow the strong Healy, who was 2nd in last week’s Brabantse Pijl. The Irishman of EF Education-EasyPost got closer to Pogačar on his own.

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The winner would come form this group of favourites

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Pogačar’s first big attack – Pidcock and Healy managed to get with him

Pogačar was also suffering in the final and Healy got within 20 seconds, but the Slovenian didn’t let him get any closer. He extended his lead in the last 10 kilometres and had plenty of time to enjoy his first Amstel Gold Race victory. The 22 year-old Healy finished second in his first Amstel participation. A very tired Pidcock just held Lutsenko and Kron off for 3rd place.

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It was just a matter of time – Pogačar attacked again

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Just a solo to the finish in Berg en Terblijt

Race winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “I didn’t expect the final to start so early. This was not the plan beforehand, but I saw that a large group was forming with many good riders, so I decided to go there. Our team was able to control it behind with Matteo Trentin and Marc Hirschi. I was a bit frustrated because no cars could reach the leading group for a long time. In the end I got a bike just in time, but I was definitely nervous. I doubted whether I could make it on my own, but in the end I squeezed everything out and made it. Van der Poel told to attack on the Keutenberg. It is the hardest climb and suits me best. He sent me a message three days before the race, I will send him a thank you back. The Flèche Wallonne is a difficult race. I’ve never been able to get a good result there, but I’m in shape and we have a good team, so a good result should be possible.”

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Another win for Tadej Pogačar

# All the Amstel Gold Race news and rider quotes in EUROTRASH Monday. #

Amstel Gold Race Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 6:02:02
2. Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:38
3. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 2:14
4. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Dstny
5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
6. Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Soudal Quick-Step at 3:14
7. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny
8. Mattias Skjelmose (Den) Trek-Segafredo
9. Alexander Kamp (Den) Tudor
10. Axel Zingle (Fra) Cofidis.

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