Gilbert wins Amstel Gold Race

Philippe Gilbert (fi’zi:k R1B shoes) continued his remarkable run of form on Sunday with victory at the Amstel Gold Race despite a crash causing a kidney injury that is likely to impact the remainder of the Belgian’s Classics campaign. The victory came two weeks after his memorable solo triumph at the Tour of Flanders and is the fourth time the 34-year-old Belgian has won the Amstel Gold Race. Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski (fi’zi:k Antares VS saddle) followed up last month’s Milan-San Remo triumph with second, while Michael Albasini came third.

The race has faced criticism in the past few years for becoming predictable, primarily due to the final climb of the day – the Cauberg. The organisers took note, removed the Cauberg and created a much more exciting 261km race, still packed with 35 climbs. That and the constant road furniture led to a tough and nervy affair, resulting in numerous crashes, including Gilbert at around the halfway mark.

Like so many times this spring, Gilbert shrugged his shoulders, dug deep and cracked on, forming part of the chase group that caught the initial 12-man breakaway. That dozen went early and included Stijn Vandenbergh (fi’zi:k saddles and AG2R La Mondiale), Brendan Canty (fi’zi:k saddles and Cannondale-Drapac) and Johann Van Zyl (fi’zi:k Arione VS saddle and Dimension Data). But with 45km to go, they were caught.

On the Kruisberg, the 29th climb of the day, Tiesj Benoot attacked. Sergio Henao (fi’zi:k Antares R3 saddle and Team Sky) followed, as did a group including Gilbert, Albasini and Nathan Haas (fi’zi:k R1B shoes and Dimension Data).

Then with 29km to go, Kwiatkowski broke free from Greg Van Avermaet (fi’zi:k Antares 00 saddle and BMC Racing Team) to catch the lead group, who built and maintained an advantage of around 45 seconds.

Come the Bemelerberg, the final climb of the day, Kwiatkowski went only to be shadowed by Gilbert. By the final 1km, it was a game of cat-and-mouse between the two world-class riders before the Pole went again with 300m to go. Kwiatkowski forged a lead of several bike lengths but Gilbert didn’t panic, unleashing his own sprint, catching – and passing – Kwiatkowski with 50m to go to become the first rider in nearly four decades to win Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Dutch Classic in the same season.

With pain returning towards the end of the race, Gilbert was immediately checked over by doctors and diagnosed with having received a major kidney tear. This means he’ll miss both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Flèche Wallonne, but the Belgian remained reflective: ‘It's one of my best years and looking behind on what I achieved makes me very happy. To be competitive in both the cobbled and the Ardennes Classics and to help the team be the best in the world brings me a lot of satisfaction. It's sad I won't be there for the remaining races of this week.’