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“Winning the Amstel Gold Race in the rainbow jersey is a dream come true, it’s amazing, it’s a classic I was aiming for."

Photo: Sirotti

AMSTEL GOLD RACE

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MICHAL KWIATKOWSKI

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RICHIE PORTE

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WORLDTOUR

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20.04.2015 @ 01:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step) became only the fourth rider in 50 editions of the Amstel Gold Race to win the Dutch one-day UCI WorldTour race wearing the UCI’s World Champion’s rainbow jersey. The 24 year-old Polish rider joins Eddy Merckx, Jan Raas and Bernard Hinault in the exclusive roll of honour to win the Amstel Gold Race as World Champion. 

Kwiatkowski and his Etixx-Quick Step team rode a near perfect race in the hills of Limburg, with the World Champion taking victory with an aggressive and well-timed sprint that was too fast and too strong for Australia’s Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team). 

Kwiatkowski scored 80 UCI WorldTour ranking points for his victory and jumped from 13th place to fourth place in the individual ranking. He now has a total of 195 points after also finishing second overall at Paris-Nice and eighth at the recent Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco. 

Australia’s Richie Porte (Team Sky) still leads the individual rankings with 303 points, with Tour of Flanders winner Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) second with 237 points and Paris-Roubaix winner John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) third with 232 points.

 

Kwiatkowski’s success lifted Etixx-Quick Step from second place to first in the team rankings. The Belgian team was consistent and often dominated the spring Classics in recent weeks but had failed to land a big UCI WorldTour win. Now they have the victory they needed and lead the UCI WorldTour team rankings with a total of 670 points. Team Sky slipped to second place with 629 points, with the Team Katusha holding onto third place with 527 points. 

Australia continues to lead the nations ranking with 638 points. Spain is second with 517 points and the Netherlands is third with 435 points. 

Kwiatkowski was stunned to have beaten better-known sprinters in the late surge to the line and hugged his Etixx-Quick Step teammates before heading to the podium area. It was a team victory. Etixx-Quick Step placed Tony Martin in the important breakaway of the race that included Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali and Kwiatkowski teammates protected him throughout the 258km race and on the 34 climbs and the twisting country roads. 

Kwiatkowski was unable to follow 2014 winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) and Matthews over the top of the Cauberg climb close to the finish but was part of the group that came across to the two inside the final kilometre. Kwiatkowski seemed trapped and too far back as the sprint to the line began but he found a way through the pack of riders and then sprinted hard, going clear to win by more than a bike length and have time celebrate with his arms in the air. 

“Winning the Amstel Gold Race in the rainbow jersey is a dream come true, it’s amazing, it’s a classic I was aiming for,” Kwiatkowski admitted. 

“I had a lot of problems in the final kilometres of the race, especially on the penultimate climb of the Cauberg and on the last lap. I told my teammates that I was feeling really bad, but they told me everyone was suffering. It was certainly true for me but somehow I managed to be up there in the finish. I’m very grateful to my teammates. To have Tony (Martin) in the attack was part of the plan and that was a big help. I’m really happy to win. It wasn’t easy to launch my sprint and beat people like Matthews but I did it.” 

The UCI WorldTour continues this week with La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday April 22 and then Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday April 26.

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