Gilbert won the 2012 UCI World Road Championships on the same roads with a similar attack and yet again, no one was able to the follow the Belgian when he powered on the pedals on the Cauberg with thousands of cycling fans cheering him on. His rivals hesitated in the final two kilometres but Gilbert gave his all to win alone, holding up three fingers to indicate his three victories. He also won the Dutch one-day classic in 2010 and 2011.
Jelle Vanendert (Lotto Belisol) was the best of the chasers but finished five seconds behind Gilbert. Australian national champion Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) finished third, with Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) fourth and Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) just behind.
Gilbert scored 80 UCI WorldTour points for his victory in the Amstel Gold Race and is now 23rd in the individual ranking as the biggest week of his season begins with a victory. He will now target Wednesday’s Fleche-Wallonne and then Sunday’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Further success will lift him much close to the top of the season-long individual ranking.
Spain’s Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) continues to lead the individual ranking with 308 points after his overall victories at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Tour of Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) is second with 260 points and Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra is third with 200 points. Thanks to his third place, Gerrans rose to seventh in the individual rankings with 164 points.
The Omega Pharma-Quick Step team remains top of the team ranking with 573 points. However Gilbert’s BMC squad jumped from sixth to second and now has a total of 408 points. Team Katusha is third with 388 points despite team leader Joaquim Rodriguez crashing out of the Amstel Gold Race.
Spain leads the nations ranking with 645 points. Belgium is second with 529 and Australia is third with 416 points.
Gilbert struggled to find his form early in the season but showed he was at his best by winning the De Brabantse Pijl Europe Tour race a few days before the Amstel Gold Race. He celebrated his victory by taking his young son onto the podium.
“This race is always special for me because I won the world title here in 2011 and it’s close to my home” Gilbert said.
“I was tense during the race because nobody wanted to chase the early breakaway. My teammate Michael Schär did an incredible job and then it was good for us with Greg van Avermaet in the attack. We could wait for the finale while other teams had to chase.”
“I told Sanchez to attack on the start of the climb and that gave me the motivation for go for it later on. My family is here too, which is great. I really wanted to win this race.”
Photo: Philippe Gilbert attacking in the breakaway that will lead him to victory