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"Even if I had dropped Matthews, I do not know if I could stay away. It was difficult with that crosswind. You saw that because a second and third group came back."

Photo: ©Tim De Waele/TDW Sport

AMSTEL GOLD RACE

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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20.04.2015 @ 00:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished fifth and Philippe Gilbert was 10th Sunday as the reigning world road champion, Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step), won Amstel Gold Race.

Brabantse Pijl winner Ben Hermans led out the sprint for Van Avermaet from a small group that formed after the final ascent of the Cauberg inside the last two kilometers of the 258 km race. Van Avermaet took the lead inside the final 150 meters but could not hold off the charge from behind. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) was runner-up ahead of Michael Matthews (ORICA-GreenEDGE) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida).

Van Avermaet was in the top five for the ninth time this season after finishing third at Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen the past two weekends.

 

 "There was no time (to talk with Gilbert) but I saw Hermans right before me," Van Avermaet said. "I immediately yelled at him to lead me out. I felt good, coming from the back, but I was in the wind too early. I had to go with 300 metres to go and then you know it will be difficult. With one extra man it would have been playable.

 

"I could have won here. If Hermans had gone a little further, to 200 meters from the finish, I would have been on the podium."

 

Earlier in the race, Van Avermaet had been on the attack with Jakob Fuglsang but he refused to work with the Dane as he was protecting Gilbert's chances.

 

"I would have liked to ride. I will not deny that," he said. "But I said that I would not cooperate and you should not change that. Phil (Gilbert) was very strong and we played his card. We put everything on him for the last climb of the Cauberg, but he couldn't get clear.

 

Gilbert, the defending champion and three-time winner of this race, notched his seventh top 10 finish in 10 starts of the WorldTour race.

 

"I gave it everything but it was not easy, Matthews got back on, then Valverde came across, and then a bigger group, and then it was all over," he said.  "Even if I had dropped Matthews, I do not know if I could stay away. It was difficult with that crosswind. You saw that because a second and third group came back.

 

"I could not finish off the great work we had done up to then. We had a great team here and at the very least I wanted to get on the podium for them. My team's work deserved a win. It was a very important race for us, the team was very united, and with me as a three-times winner, we had a lot of responsibility for controlling the race and we did that well. The result though, wasn't the one we wanted."

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