World champion Chantal Blaak (The Netherlands/Boels-Dolmans) took the Amstel Gold Race honours on Sunday, her first WorldTour victory of the year. Blaak triumphed from a small group that formed before the first of four ascents of the Cauberg. Boels-Dolmans has now won four of the first seven WorldTour races of 2018. Blaak assumes the lead in the WorldTour for the first time in two years.

The podium winners all had a post-race beer; hopefully all the other riders did too.

The Route
The women faced 17 climbs over 115-km, with the most selective climbs on the three finishing circuits: Geulhemmerberg (1-km of 6 percent, max of 8 percent), Bemelerberg (1.2-km of 4 percent, max of 7 percent) and the mighty Cauberg (900-metres of 7 percent, max of 13.1 percent). Riders crossed the finish line 1.7-km past the peak of the Cauberg.

The Octet
The peloton rolled over the first three hills intact. A crash brought down 2017 WorldTour winner Anna van der Breggen. It took the Keutenberg climb to split things up, the field assuming three bunches. From a leading group of 40, a high-powered octet representing eight teams broke clear. In the local Valkenburg circuit and hitting the Cauberg for the first time, the eight riders held a 30-second gap.

On the first of three 16.9-km circuits, the breakaway’s gap increased.

The Final Lap

Blaak attacked on the penultimate trip up the Cauberg and took two others with her into the bell lap. Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Sunweb) survived a wheel change and bridged over with a duo. Before the last trip up the Cauberg, the number swelled to eight again.

Brand attacked first and then Amanda Spratt (Australia/Mitchelton-Scott) made a dig, with only Blaak and Brand able to go with her.

Blaak’s effort to the line gave her the big win. In 2016 she won the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem.

Karol-Ann Canuel was the top Canadian in 53rd, with Leah Kirchmann right behind her at 56th.

The Ardennes Classics continue on Wednesday with La Fleche Wallonne.

2018 Amstel Gold Race
1) Chantal Blaak (The Netherlands/Boels-Dolmans) 3:24:17
2) Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands/Sunweb) s.t.
3) Amanda Spratt (Australia/Mitchelton-Scott) +0:03
53) Karol-Ann Canuel (Canada/Boels-Dolmans) +2:11
56) Leah Kirchmann (Canada/Sunweb) +2:24

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