Demi Vollering took her first Amstel Gold Race victory with a well-timed attack on the final ascent of the Cauberg. Over the main climb and with the bunch spread out and disorganised, the Dutch rider sensed her moment and pushed it home to secure a solo victory. Her teammate Lotte Kopecky was 2nd, securing yet another 1-2 for the team and Trofeo Alfredo Binda winner Shirin van Anrooij was 3rd.
After riding out from Maastricht, the final of this year’s Amstel Gold Race was on a circuit including the Geulhemmerberg, the Bemelerberg and the Cauberg. Much was made pre-race of the extra lap and longer distance but it didn’t make a major effect on the racing. An early break went up the road and it was super strong. Containing pre-race favourite Marianne Vos, plus the likes of Lucinda Brand, Juliette Labous, Niamh Fisher-Black, Sabrina Stultiens, Jelena Eric and Gladys Verhulst. Once Eric began to struggle, that forced a counter-move from Annemiek van Vleuten which her rivals marked, effectively killing off the breakaway.
Around 10km later, and with about 70km to race, Lucinda Brand and Sabrina Sutltiens, with both riders getting a gap. The distance fluctuated, coming almost back down to a catch before ballooning out to 2 minutes. That larger gap instilled a chase from the bunch and as it get the pressure on the gap steadily came down over all of the climbs. So with 2 laps to go, the gap was now only about 30 seconds. Around halfway around the next lap, their move was finally shut down and we were treated to the sight of Lorena Wiebes dropping a wattbomb on the base of the Cauberg and she tried to continue to keep doing a job for her team.
Kristen Faulkner was the next to attempt something, riding clear over the top of the Cauberg and having a small gap by the finish line which signalled the final lap. Lorena Wiebes, who had looked almost to a standstill on the Cauberg was back up and able to do the legwork to close the gap for her team leaders. We saw a late move from Soraya Paladin on the Bemelerberg which was bridged over to by Grace Brown and both riders went into the last kilometres on the Cauberg with a handful of seconds at the front of the race.
The looming danger of the big stars was clear and they came and swallowed them up by the top of the Cauberg. A group containing Kasia Niewiadoma, Riejanne Markus, Liane Lippert and the SD Worx duo of Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky looked set to work together for the line and try out their sprint. However, Demi Vollering had other ideas and picked this moment to attack, leaving her rivals looking at each other and to who would sacrifice their chances to win by chasing.
So it was no surprise when the chase was stopped early and Vollering was able to ride to the finish and raise her arms aloft. After a couple of near misses in 2021 and 2022 where she finished 2nd, she was finally able to reach the top step of her home race this year.
“I will sleep very well tonight! I still can’t quite believe it. We rode a really good race today as a team. This was really a course of dedication. Mischa constantly burned herself out for us and Lorena also did a great job. And now we also have Lotte in this race. That’s ideal. Normally I rely on my sprint, but this time I was able to attack myself. I saw that it was completely apart on the Cauberg. I decided to ride at my own pace and not blow myself up. I waited for the pace to slow down a bit. I actually thought I had entered a little too early, but that turned out not to be the case.”Demi Vollering
“It is nicely distributed, did I curse at Demi’s attack? No, this was pre-arranged. I knew it would happen. I win the Tour of Flanders, Demi then came second. She now wins her Amstel Gold Race, I am second. It’s nicely divided. And Demi absolutely wanted to win this competition. I felt strong uphill and I saw a very strong team again.
That is also the merit of our teammates. For us it is very nice, but I understand that people think differently. Anyway, we’re not complaining. Is it good for cycling? Every team wants the strongest team possible. Look at Jumbo-Visma with the men. You can also ask that question there.”Lotte Kopecky
“I am generally not a sprinter, but I do know that I can arrive well after a gruelling race. With three laps to go, I had two flat tyres. It took me a whole lap to come back. I was really empty afterwards and just tried to sit along and work for Elisa Longo Borghini, our leader for today. At the last time Cauberg, however, I was suddenly in the lead and I also suddenly become third in the sprint. No idea how!
What else is in the barrel? No idea, I keep surprising myself. I’m just looking forward to the next two classics and maybe there’s something nice in it, although my spring has already been more than successful. It’s already much better than I could have ever dreamed of.”Shirin van Anrooij
“Halfway through the race, I felt enough that it wouldn’t be for today. The legs were just completely blocked. I just wasn’t good enough. You can see how cold I am now. I didn’t expect it to get so cold, my legs really felt like concrete. Usually, I get a bit warmer with a raincoat, but now it just stayed cold. I also told my teammates that we should go for Liane because it would no longer be one for me.”Annemiek van Vleuten
2023 Amstel Gold Race result
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Main photo credit: Getty Images