By Owen Rogers
Kasia Niewiadoma won the third edition of the women’s Amstel Gold Race since its 2017 reintroduction.
The former Polish champion attacked on the last of four ascents of the famed Cauberg climb and soloed to success, bagging a first WorldTour win for her Canyon-SRAM team this year.
It was a close run race, with the 24-year-old originally countering another attack but being chased down by world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott). The Dutchwoman was closing in on Niewiadoma in the final metres but was unable to make the catch, finishing second.
Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) was third, sprinting from a small group to the podium after originally being unable to go with compatriot Van Vleuten after originally taking off in pursuit of Niewiadoma.
The race was hugely entertaining, waxing and waning with a number of meaningful moves being closed down. Perhaps the most dangerous was Trek-Segafredo’s Elisa Longo-Borghini, who went clear at the beginning of the last of three 17.9km finishing circuits. On the Bemelerberg, the penultimate climb just inside the closing 10km, the Italian was joined by Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton Scott) and Vos’s team mate Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.
While the trio looked strong, they didn't work well together and with Boels-Dolmans unrepresented at the front they were brought back immediately before the descent to Valkenburg, and the final climb of the Cauberg.
The race was also notable for the return to competition of Lizzie Deignan. Racing in Trek-Segafredo colours for the first time, the former world, Commonwealth and national champion was even on the attack in the middle of the race, though eventually she was brought back and finished 19th, 2-27 down.
How it happened
Within four kilometres of the 126.8km race leaving the neutral zone just outside the start city of Maastricht, attacks began to go and seven riders made it clear with relative ease.
Diana Deñuela (Alé-Cipollini), Jesse Vandenbulcke (Doltcini-Van Eyck), Danique Braam (Lotto-Soudal Ladies), Nina Buijsman (Parkhotel-Valkenbrug), Shannon Malseed (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank), Iliaria Sanguinetti (Valcar-Cylance) and Katrin Hammes (WNT-Rotor) had built their lead to over two minutes within a further six kilometres.
With 30km raced, the group's lead settled at 5-30, with the bunch taking it easy in the warm Dutch sunshine.
Just after Bergeseweg, the fourth of 19 climbs the race would tackle, Hammes was in trouble and dropped from the bunch, leaving just six at the front, though their gap remained static until the approach to Eyserbosweg, the seventh climb of the day.
Here the peloton began to accelerate, cutting the lead to just 3-30, with Hammes still alone in-between. Other riders began to drop from the leading group and the increased pace also caused the peloton to split.
After the climb, five leaders had 1-30 on a strong chase group of 15, with many of the pre-race favourites there.
By the time the race passed the finish line for the first of four times, the leaders were finally caught and the race was set alight.
A flurry of attacks came on these closing laps, with Deignan’s being one of those. It was not to be a fairy tale return for the Brit though, and she was caught on the next ascent of the Cauberg, before more attacks punctuated the closing kilometres, with Longo Borghini’s the final effort before Niewiadoma made her move to take the race.
Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition: Maastricht to Berg-en-Terblijt (126.8km)
1. Kasia Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM in 3-25-48
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
3. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv, at 10 sec
4. Annika Langvad (Den) Boels-Dolmans
5. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Alé-Cipollini
6. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Bigla
7. Demi Vollering (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg, all at same time
8. Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Virtu, at 30 sec
9. Alison Jackson (Can) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank
10. Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar Cylance, all at same time
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