04/22/2019, MVDP, NIEWIADOMA CHAMPS at AMstel gold
Amstel GOLD: GOLDEN VICTORIES for MVDP, NIEWIADOMA
Canyon carries two champs to a set of exciting victories this weekend in The Netherlands
Some races are foregone conclusions; a breakaway, left out of sight and out of mind gets the win. Or the cursory sprint, with the same small handful of riders, netting the same result.
Not so for the storied Amstel Gold Race. Not this year. And not for either the women’s or men’s elite races. In what’s being referred to as not just the best day of racing this year, but in this race’s history, Kasia Niewiadoma of CANYON//SRAM Racing and Mathieu van der Poel of Corendon-Circus Cycling Team literally willed themselves to victory this past weekend in Valkenburg, The Netherlands
The Amstel Gold women’s race kicked things off, and a stacked field attacked from the gun.
“I just kept saying to myself I needed to save myself as much as possible, because I knew I needed as much energy for the end," Niewiadoma said. "How smart I rode would be the only way I could try to win this race.”
In one of the most exciting women’s races so far this season, the Polish powerhouse put in an unbeatable attack on the final ascent of the Cauberg, her Canyon Ultimate carrying her forward.
Despite one rider closing in the final meters (making for some serious nail-biting among fans), the win was locked up in the final 20 meters of the race when Niewiadoma looked around, sat up and raised her arms high, smiling wide as she absorbed the gravity of her accomplishment.
"I’m just feeling overwhelmed with so many different emotions and feelings. I still can’t believe what happened,” she said. “I have been dreaming of winning this race, winning here on the Cauberg for a long, long time.”
The men’s race followed, and it was a master class performance. While Corendon-Circus ace Mathieu van der Poel’s foray from cyclocross and mountain biking into the spring road racing circuit has been seen by some as a dalliance for the reigning CX World Champ, he has proved it’s nothing but. The man called MVDP has already claimed wins at Brabantse-Pijl and Dwars door Vlaanderen and netted an impressive fourth-place finish at Tour of Flanders despite a late-race crash. Those results had his name bandied about—but mostly as a darkhorse spoiler.
In the last 44k of the race, it looked like the Dutch road champion would remain just that; a dark horse. While in the mix of heavy hitters all day, he launched an effort that looked to be “the move.” It resulted in a two-man split—but one that he wasn’t part of. The two-man break earned over a minute gap. With 4k left and that 1:07 deficit commentators were certain the two breakaway artists would be left solo fighting for the win.
At 3k, 1:01 behind, van der Poel turned on the afterburners. With a group of seven men hanging on for dear life in his slipstream, the 24-year-old Dutch favorite went into diesel mode, powering ahead.
At 2k, the gap was 47 seconds. But in the following 500 meters, the gap was slashed to 21 seconds; the MVDP freight train was coming—fast. The two men out front began tightening the ratchets on their shoes, preparing for a sprint. Certainly their teams were beginning to scream into their radios to stay on the gas, but it was too late.
At 600 meters, the two leaders looked over their shouder and saw MVDP bearing down on them. The duo launched their sprint as van der Poel powered his Aeroad through those last riders across the finish line in first place, and clapped his hand to the top of his helmet, shaking his head at disbelief for what he’d done. He skidded to a stop and spilled off his bike and onto the pavement, fully spent.... but with the Amstel Gold title in hand.
“I didn’t believe I could win,” van der Poel said. “I didn’t expect that at all. I went full gas and hoped the leaders would start to look at each other. It’s unbelievable.”
The two bikes that carried them to victory: the Canyon Aeroad and Canyon Ultimate.