An early start in Valkenburg this morning saw the Women’s peloton roll out for this year’s edition of Amstel Gold Race, and a parcours that saw them take on a hilly circuit in the Limburg area featuring the climbs of Bemelerberg, Cauberg and Geulhemmerberg.
The race was on from the start and numerous small attacks were made before a duo gained an advantage. The pace remained on in the peloton though and over the top of the Geulhemmerberg with still 95 kilometres to go a large chasing group got clear, with Leah Kirchmann and Franziska Koch riding strongly to be in there for the team. The now front group of around 20 riders increased their advantage to over one minute and 30 seconds and for a short period of time, the peloton were happy to let them go as most teams had made the split.
However, approaching the halfway point in the day the bunch had increased the pace and things were all together with 50 kilometres to go; with Kirchmann, Koch, Juliette Labous, Floortje Mackaij and Coryn Rivera all in the reduced peloton of around 50 riders. It then became a race of attrition over the closing laps as the intensity remained high and heading into the final 15 kilometres Labous showed her good climbing legs by making it into the front group as the race charged towards the finish. Digging deep on the last ascent of the Cauberg as explosive attacks were made, Labous gave it her all, finishing just outside the top 15 on the day.
“In the first two laps a big breakaway was formed and Franziska and Leah were in it, so it was perfect for us,” explained Labous. “Behind it started to be a big fight on the second time up the Cauberg and from that moment it was full gas the whole day. We all did a great job and we all gave our best so we can’t have any regrets. I dug really deep to be in that first group and it was very hard. I am still not a puncher but I am improving so I am very happy with how my race went personally, and I am looking forward to our next chance as a group on Wednesday at Flèche Wallonne.”
Team DSM coach Bennie Lambregts added: “We started the race in a really good way. We were in a good position for the important moments and because of that we had Franziska and Leah in the front group who did well there. Then there was another split and a second group came across with Juliette, Floortje and Coryn, so there were about 45 riders out front and we had five in the front which was good. Coming into the final it was really hard though and the race split again with Juliette making the front selection and she did her best to the finish. I think when we look to the team performance, how we worked together and how we tried to come into the final with numbers; I think we did a good job today.”
|Team Jumbo-Visma Women
|VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek