Funny day on the roads of Dutch Limburg, Sunday April 14, during the Amstel Gold Race, kick-off of the Ardennes classics. A little chaos, confusion, suspense… And, at the end, a victory down to the wire for Marianne Vos; a surprise defeat for Mathieu Van der Poel, for the benefit of Tom Pidcock.

First there was this collision, around 11 a.m., between a police motorcyclist, responsible for supervising the race, and a civilian car on the Bergseweg, one of the difficulties of the day. After 45 kilometers traveled since Maastricht, the women’s peloton is at a standstill. The interruption will last one hour. Time to evacuate the injured agent to the hospital and close the location for investigation.

The riders will be able to get back on the road, but the event has been neutralized until entering the local Valkenburg circuit… and shortened by around fifty kilometers – from the approximately 158 of the initial route. The men, who left three quarters of an hour after their counterparts, will also see their route modified by the accident: the climb of the Bergseweg was canceled and they had to complete a loop around the blocked women’s peloton.

L’erreur de Lorena Wiebes

Then, the arrival of the women’s race, in Berg en Terblijt, gave way to a brief moment of hesitation. Who, Lorena Wiebes or Marianne Vos, won the sprint? Convinced of her success, the first got up, arms in the air, shortly before the line… Just what the second needed to put her tire in front.

“I didn’t think I could pass her, but she celebrated her victory too early, I took advantage of it,” reacted Marianne Vos after the race. (…) It’s a shame for Lorena, but I’m still very happy. »

The Visma – Lease a Bike veteran, 36, succeeds Demi Vollering on the list of winners and signs her 251st career victory; the second on the Amstel Gold Race, after 2021, and the third of the season after winning Het Nieuwsblad and Across Flanders.

She also had a few words for the injured officer earlier in the day: “You have to understand that there are more important things than the bike. We think of this police officer and we hope that there will be good news concerning him. »

Van der Poel, un favori en retreat

The day was also a source of some trouble for the men’s peloton, who waited, along the more than 250 km of the race, for an attack from Mathieu Van der Poel… In vain.

The Dutchman, who flew through the Flanders spring, with three successes in a row – GP E3, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix – was the overwhelming favorite. A fortiori, when Tadej Pogacar, trying for the title, had lightened his season to prepare for the Giro (May 4-26), and Remco Evenepoel, like Wout van Aert – injured respectively during the Tour of the Basque Country, on April 4, and Across Flanders, March 27 –, were not at the start.

It was ultimately Tom Pidcock who took the best, in the sprint, from a leading quartet, notably ahead of Marc Hirschi who was very prominent at the end of the race. Mathieu Van der Poel finished 22nd.

The rider from the Ineos-Grenadiers team is the first Briton to win on an “Ardennese”. He also takes his revenge on the 2021 edition, where he finished 2nd in the Amstel, in the photo finish, behind Wout van Aert. “Hats off to him! “, greeted his teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.

Now on to the rest of the Ardennes classics: Flèche Wallonne, Wednesday April 17, then Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Sunday April 21.