Amstel Gold Race 2019 – full results and standings: Mathieu van der Poel ambushes Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang to claim stunning one-day win

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Mathieu van der Poel made a hug statement at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday when the 24-year-old attacked from a long way out before launching a final decisive sprint - GETTY IMAGES
Mathieu van der Poel made a hug statement at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday when the 24-year-old attacked from a long way out before launching a final decisive sprint – GETTY IMAGES

Mathieu van der Poel won the biggest race of his career on Sunday to leave the cycling world stunned with the manner in which he overhauled Julian Alaphilippe and Jakob Fuglsang who had looked certain to win the Dutch hilly classic.

“I can’t believe it,” the Corendon-Circus rider said afterwards. “I didn’t believe I could win. I didn’t expect that at all. I still can’t understand what has happened.” He was not the only one left bemused by his win.

The world cyclo-cross champion arrived at his home race in fine form having won the midweek De Brabantse Pijl in neighbouring Belgium, however with just five kilometres of the 265.7km race from Maastricht to Berg en Terblijt remaining the Dutchman trailed the leading pair by almost a minute. Van der Poel, though, did what he has repeatedly done throughout the season and fought his back into contention.

After crashing heavily on the cobbles in a high-speed sprint at last month’s Danilith Nokere Koerse most had thought the 24-year-old’s classics campaign had ended prematurely. However, days later the Dutchman bounced back in emphatic style to win the Grand Prix de Denain. The following week he finished fourth at Ghent-Wevelgem.

Another win followed at Dwars door Vlaanderen in the countdown to the Tour of Flanders, a race his Pro-Continental team had hoped would suit Van der Poel. His race in Flanders though had looked over before the Dutch national champion showed incredible powers of recovery. After crashing and falling off the back of what turned out to be the select group of riders that went on to contest the race, Van der Poel worked his way through the field before claiming an impressive fourth place.

Days after winning De Brabantse Pijl, Van der Poel again rode from the back, though this time he was able to plough his way through to claim a memorable victory, just as his father Adri had done in 1990.

Though Van der Poel may have benefited from the slowing of pace of race leaders Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Fuglsang (Astana) as the pair neared the final kilometre, reports in Het Nieuwsblad added that time gaps given to the riders did not match those on television. Either way, Van der Poel had had to ride from some distance out – with no team-mates – to close the gap on two of the strongest riders in the peloton right now. 

With the finishing line in sight, Van der Poel who had pulled across a handful of riders, made easy work of the final sprint. Simon Clarke (EF Education First) took second ahead of Fuglsang.

The WorldTour continues at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday ahead of the fourth monument of the season, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on Sunday.